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Duck Facts

Facts about Ducks

Eurasian Teal
Eurasian Teal (Anas Crecca)

There are a large number of duck species throughout the world and they belong to the Anatidae family which also includes geese and swans.

A male duck is called a 'drake' and a female duck is called a 'duck' or 'hen'. A baby duck is called a 'duckling'.

This website groups ducks into Dabbling Ducks, Diving Ducks, Perching Ducks, Stiff-tail Ducks, Sea Ducks, Shelducks, and Whistling Ducks or you can see a page containing all the World's Ducks.

Dabbling Ducks generally feed on the surface of the water whereas Diving Ducks will dive underwater for food. Perching Ducks like to perch on a tree branch and nest in tree cavities, Stiff-tail Ducks are a small species of duck which often hold their tail erect, Sea Ducks winter along the coasts and are able to tolerate salt water, Shelducks are large ducks that seem to be a cross between a goose and a duck, and Whistling Ducks (Tree Ducks) have a long neck and long legs, and have a noisy whistling call.

What do wild Ducks Eat?

Ducks will feed on a variety of different food sources such as aquatic vegetation including the leaves, roots, and seeds of plants, also aquatic insects and their larvae. Sea Ducks such as Mergansers have serrated beaks called a sawbill which helps them to grip fish, and they also feed on molluscs, crustaceans, and small amphibians. Shelducks and Whistling Ducks are also comfortable on land as well as water and will feed on grasses.


Many species of duck are monogamous and stay together for just a year. They will generally breed once a year in the Spring or Summer or during the wet season. Flocks of Shelduck tend to migrate and leave all their young behind with a few adult birds who care for them.

Habitat and Migration:

Ducks are aquatic birds and can be found all around the world on every continent except Antarctica and are seen in wetlands, lakes, rivers, swamps, reservoirs, and along the coast. Many of the Northern Hemisphere ducks are migratory and will fly south during the winter to warmer regions. Tropical Ducks tend to be non-migratory and some ducks (particularly in Australia) are nomadic as they continually seek out temporary lakes after local flooding.

Plumage and Moulting:

The male duck (Drake) usually has a colourful plumage during the breeding season which helps them to attract a mate. The female duck (Duck) is usually a dull brown colour. During the non-breeding season the male will moult and gain a much duller plumage similar to the female. This moult which results in the eclipse plumage includes the wing feathers so that it cannot fly for a time and the duller plumage helps the duck to be inconspicuous to predators. The male later has another less severe moult to regain its colourful plumage again so it can once again attract a mate. Moulting is necessary to keep the feathers in good condition. Some duck species have the same colour plumage between the male and female and they do not have an eclipse plumage.

Duck Sounds (Calls):

Many people associate ducks with making a 'Quacking' sound and it is usually the female that makes this sound. Ducks make many different sounds depending on which species it is, and for example, the Whistling Duck has a high pitched whistling call. This website contains many Duck species from around the world and includes the calls of many of them.

Domestic Ducks:

Most Domesticated Ducks are descended from the Mallard. They are farmed for their meat and eggs. These ducks have become much larger than the original Mallard. A Call Duck is a domesticated duck that is raised for decoration or as a pet and resembles a small mallard.


Duck Pictures - American Wood Duck
American Wood Duck (Aix Sponsa) - Duck Pictures

Duck Pictures - Australian Wood Duck
Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta Jubata) - Duck Pictures

Duck Pictures - Bufflehead
Bufflehead (Bucephala Albeola) - Duck Pictures

Identifying Duck Species:

Below are some links to help you identify different species of duck:

    Male Ducks in breeding plumage
    Female Ducks
    Male Ducks in eclipse plumage

    Dabbling Ducks
    Diving Ducks
    Perching Ducks
    Sea Ducks
    Stiff-tail Ducks
    Whistling Ducks

    British Ducks
    North American Ducks

    Look for Ducks alphabetically

     A-B    C-F    G-L    M-R    S-Z   

Where can i see all these ducks:

There are several WWT Centres around the UK which have many of these duck species in their collection. You can also view wild ducks from their hides.

WWT Centres
WWT Arundel
WWT Caerlaverock
WWT Castle Espie
WWT London
WWT Martin Mere
WWT National - Wales
WWT Slimbridge
WWT Washington
WWT Welney