You may have chased a duck, or maybe the duck chased you! Perhaps you’ve fed a few ducks while at the park! And you have certainly seen good-old Donald on tv! But what do you really know about these quacking duckies? Keep on reading to learn 60 facts about Ducks.
Fact 1: Ducks are members of the waterfowl family of birds called ‘Anatidae’.
- Other members of the family are swans and geese.
Fact 2: Ducks are mostly aquatic birds that live in fresh and marine environments.
- Moreover, ducks are found in every part of the world except for Antarctica.
Fact 3: A male duck is called a drake.
- Female ducks, on the other hand, are called a hen in ornithology.
Fact 4: Those adorable baby ducks are called ducklings.
- The baby ducks stay close to their mom until they are 1 to 2 months old.
Fact 5: Ducks are omnivores that will eat a wide variety of food.
- They mainly feed on small fish, fish eggs, snails, grass, weeds, aquatic plants, small berries, seeds and aquatic insects.
Fact 6: People often feed domesticated ducks bread although it’s bad for them.
- Bread is junk food for ducks, it fills them up making them less likely to eat foods with nutritional value.
Fact 7: Ducks can dive to significant depths in search of food.
- However, to stay underwater, they’d have to carry extra weight, so diving ducks are usually heavy.
Fact 8: Dabbling ducks on the other hand feed on the surface of the water, on land, or by ducking their head underwater.
- These shallow-water ducks graze primarily on aquatic plants, vegetation, larvae, and insects.
Fact 9: There’s a common urban legend that says a duck’s quack doesn’t echo.
- However, this is false. Acoustic professors have proven that duck quacks do echo, but it’s quite difficult to hear them.
Fact 10: Humans have been domesticating ducks as pets and farm animals for over 500 years.
- Domestic breeds of ducks, with the exception of Muscovy ducks, are all derived from the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) kind.
Fact 11: One of the most striking breeds of domesticated duck is the Pekin duck.
- It has white feathers, and is very large compared to the ancestral Mallard. Pekin ducks are also known for their excellent rate of egg production.
Fact 12: You’ll find dabbling ducks in America, Europe, Asia, North Africa.
- They’ve also been introduced in New Zealand and Australia recently.
Fact 13: Male Mallards are usually characterized by having a glossy green head, and grey wings and belly.
- Female Mallards on the other hand generally have brown-speckled plumage.
Fact 14: Mallard ducks have a moulting season which begins in June in the Northern Hemisphere.
- These ducks go through a major moulting period in the summer which usually happens over the course of 2-3 weeks.
Fact 15: Mallard ducks have a life expectancy of 5 to 10 years.
- However, in 2008, a Mallard that was shot by a hunter was revealed to be 27 years old. The duck had been tagged by biologists in 1981, making it the oldest known Mallard on record.
Fact 16: New Zealand’s Paradise Shelducks generally mate for life.
- They often stick with one mate, and fly and feed together.
Fact 17: All ducks have highly waterproof feathers.
- Ducks have a special oil-producing gland located near their tails called the preen. A duck then uses its beak to rub the oil all over its feathers to keep them waterproof.
Fact 18: Ducks have a lot of economic importance.
- Their down feathers, in particular, are used in pillows, mattresses, and comforters, while the white Pekin duck is the most common variety raised for eggs and meat.
Fact 19: A lot of popular cartoon characters on T.V. are ducks.
- We have Disney’s Donald and Daisy Duck, Daffy Duck, Scrooge McDuck, and the siblings, Huey, Dewey and Louie.
Fact 20: There are around 140-175 species of birds in the Anatidae family.
- Unfortunately, 5 of these species have been extinct since 1600, and many more are threatened with extinction to this very day.
Fact 21: Donald Duck is a cartoon character created by the Walt Disney Productions team in 1934.
- Donald often appears as an anthropomorphic white duck who has a yellow-orange bill, legs and feet, and wears a blue sailor suit.
Fact 22: Although baby ducks follow their mom around, they are actually precocial.
- This means that when they hatch, ducklings can already stand, walk, and feed on their own.
Fact 23: In order to find a suitable water source for feeding and swimming, a mother duck will usually walk her ducks for more than half a mile over land in search for the perfect place to feed.
- After the duckling’s hatch, the sooner they get to the water to feed the better their chances of survival are.
Fact 24: Male ducks go through an ‘eclipse plumage’ after mating.
- During this time, drakes lose their striking plumage and will resemble females for several weeks.
Fact 25: During an ‘eclipse plumage’, male ducks lose their ability to fly.
- This is because drakes moult all of their long wing feathers at once, making them flightless for about a month.
Fact 26: For protection, male ducks experiencing ‘eclipse plumage’ often stay in remote areas or flock in groups.
- By October, their plumage has regrown and they have regained their recognizable striking colours.
Fact 27: Ducks aren’t always monogamous and can have multiple partners in their lifetime.
- These birds will seek out new mates every year, choosing the healthiest, strongest duck to mate with.
Fact 28: A hen will line her nest with soft down feathers plucked from her own breast.
- She does this to give her eggs the best possible cushioning and insulation.
Fact 29: A mother duck will make her nest out of grass, twigs, leaves, reeds and other plant material too.
- A hen prefers to nest near water, and will construct her nest in a well-vegetated area, or in a natural hole in a tree.
Fact 30: A duck’s bill is designed to help the birds forage in mud and to strain food.
- Ducks also use their bills to grab and swallow food in one big gulp.
Fact 31: There are currently over 40 breeds of domesticated ducks.
- Among these are the American Pekin, Crested Ducks, Swedish blue ducks and the German Pekins.
Fact 32: The Long Island duck or the all-white Pekin duck, are usually bred for commercial use.
- There are several ways to cook a duck, but the most famous duck dish is the Peking duck which originated in Beijing.
Fact 33: Cold temperatures aren’t a problem for ducks.
- This is because of their thick down feathers that keep them insulated.
Fact 34: Not all ducks can fly.
- Domesticated ducks, particularly those that were born in captivity and raised by humans, usually don’t learn to fly because they don’t really need to.
Fact 35: Ducks self-preen to keep their coats dry.
- They do this by rubbing oil secreted from their uropygial gland all over their feathers.
Fact 36: Hens are more likely to produce more eggs when there is an abundance of daylight.
- To increase egg production, farmers often turn on artificial lighting to give their hens 17 hours of ‘daylight’ each day.
Fact 37: It’s not unusual for the omnivorous ducks to consume small stones, sand or gravel.
- Ducks store sand in their gizzards to help them breakdown their food.
Fact 38: Ducks have an amazing 360-degree field of vision.
- A duck’s eyes are located on either side of its head and this enables it to see objects that are near and far simultaneously.
Fact 39: In 1911, after discovering small nuggets of gold inside the gizzards of ducks that they had shot, gold prospectors came rushing to Nebraska in search of gold.
- However, the fortune-seekers were never able to locate where the gold originally came from.
Fact 40: Ducks can actually see in colour and have three eyelids.
- Ducks, however, can only see reds, greens, yellows and blues, thanks to their peculiar retinas.
Fact 41: In the event of severe weather, ducks will perform a mass migration called a “grand passage”.
- Other than that, ducks do not usually begin their migration until fall, around August or September.
Fact 42: Grand passages have only been recorded three times in history: one in 1940, one in 1955, and another in 1995.
- In 1995, 90 million ducks reportedly migrated from Canada after a severe cold front set in.
Fact 43: Waterfowl generally migrate south to warmer climates in the winter.
- They do however return every summer to the north to breed.
Fact 44: Ducks are incredibly vigilant creatures.
- In fact, in a study done by researchers at Indiana State University, it was revealed that Mallard ducks stay alert even when they’re sleeping.
Fact 45: When dozing off in groups, some ducks act as “guards” stationed outside of the group.
- A guard duck only sleeps with one eye shut, its other eye stays open to keep watch.
Fact 46: Baby ducks are born independent.
- By the time they’re two months, the ducklings are already capable of flying.
Fact 47: Donald Duck‘s middle name is “Fauntleroy”.
- Along with his friend Mickey Mouse, Donald, by far, is one of the most popular Disney characters.
Fact 48: Some species of ducks can fly at an incredible distance of 332 miles per day.
- When covering such distance, a duck would typically fly at a speed of 40 to 60 mph.
Fact 49: In 2016, 895 cases of salmonella infections, from bird owners, were reported in the United States alone.
- The outbreak strains of Salmonella were reported from 48 states in the country.
Fact 50: Duck faeces can carry up to 60 different types of diseases.
- This includes E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Cryptosporidium.
Fact 51: Only about 60% of ducklings grow up to be fully independent ducks.
- Ducks usually fledge or take flight when they reach 50 days of age.
Fact 52: Ducklings are preyed upon by a whole host of other animals.
- This includes larger fish and bullfrogs.
Fact 53: Ducks can stand on ice without sustaining any irreparable damage to their feet.
- They do this by stopping the blood supply going to their webbed feet.
Fact 54: Drakes can be very aggressive during the mating season and will fight their rivals to the death.
- Females can be seen trying to protect themselves from insemination from an unwanted male.
Fact 55: Drakes are one of the few bird species that possess an external phallus or a penis.
- A duck’s penis is a long, corkscrew-shaped tentacle that retracts and disappears into its body when it’s not mating.
Fact 56: The length of a drake’s genitalia depends on the number of rivals he has.
- This means that the more rivals a drake has, the longer its penis will grow, giving it a higher chance of siring an offspring.
Fact 57: Surprisingly, ducks are capable of switching genders.
- Although it can happen both from female to male and male to female, female to male gender-switching seems much more common.
Fact 58: Ducks swap genders when there is an imbalance between males and females in a flock.
- Another possible reason for switching genders is damage in the reproductive system.
Fact 59: A drake’s sex chromosome is ‘ZZ’.
- Hens, on the other, hand have ‘ZW’ as their sex chromosome.
Fact 60: Like human hair, a duck’s plumage fades to white with age.
- This is because the feathers loose pigment with each moult.