Fascinating Facts about Ducks
Ducks are a common sight around our ponds, lakes and streams. So common, in fact, that is easy to overlook the beauty and unique nature of these wonderful birds. Here are some fascinating facts about ducks to remind you of the amazing creatures which you will find close to home.
- Ducks are a part of the Anatidae family which also includes swans and geese.
- Ducks are found on every continent except Antarctica. Certain species are found globally whilst others are rare and have a restricted range.
- Baby ducks are called ducklings, drake is the term for a male duck and females are known as hens or ducks.
- A group of ducks can be referred to as a raft, a team or a paddling.
- Duck feathers are waterproof because of their intricate structure and a waxy coating produced by a gland at the base of the tail. This coating is spread from feather to feather when the birds preen. The feathers are so waterproof that when a duck dives under the water, the feathers close to its skin remain completely dry.
- Ducklings are able to walk and leave the nest just a few hours after they hatch. Their ability to move helps them to avoid the threat of predation.
- When ducklings are able to walk, a hen will move her young to find a suitable source of water for swimming and feeding.
- For a month after the breeding season, male ducks are unable to fly. At this time they sport eclipse plumage which looks similar to the plumage of female ducks. New feathers then grow. When flightless, the ducks are vulnerable to predators and so tend to move to isolated areas or to flock together for protection.
- Most ducks are monogamous for each breeding season but don’t usually mate for life.
- Duck hens line their nests with soft down feathers which they pluck from their own breasts. These cushion and insulate the eggs. The nests are constructed from grasses, mud, twigs and leaves.
- Ducks are omnivorous which means that they eat both plants and fish.
- Duck bills have evolved to help the birds forage in mud and to strain food out of the water. There’s a hard nail at the tip of the bill which aids foraging and a comb-like structure on the side which sieves small insects and crustaceans from the water.
- Few ducks actually quack. Their calls are more like squeaks, grunts, groans and growls. Females are usually more vocal than males.
- Duck quacks do echo!
- Ducks have been domesticated for more than 500 years.
- There are more than 40 breeds of domestic duck but all are descended from just two species.
So there you have it! Ducks are beautiful and interesting creatures that we should take the time to appreciate when we see them. Happily, there are plenty of ducks to admire across the country and they are not difficult to find!