60 Facts About Ducks


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. 

References:

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