The duck doesn’t get enough credit. This amazing animal is a very complex creature with some impressive features and abilities.
Since the dawn of time, man has maintained his relationship with the duck. We like to play with them as kids. We like to watch them. We like to hunt them.. and we like to eat them.
Rather you’re looking to make a duck your next meal or heading down to the local park to feed them with the kids, here’s some duck stats you’ll be able to amaze your friends with. Some might call it “useless duck trivia” but we prefer to think of ourselves as “Anatidae Educated”.
Kinds of Ducks
There are two main types of ducks; dabblers and divers.
Dabblers feed by skimming the water or up-ending themselves to reach food just below the surface.
Dabblers have legs that are more centrally located, which allows them greater mobility while feeding on land.
Dabblers sit high in the water.
Divers go deeper under water.
Diving ducks have legs that are set far to the back of the body, which causes them to waddle on land, but helps them swim faster and with more control.
Diving ducks sit much lower in the water than dabblers. Divers are able to submerge easily to go after under-water prey.
A duck’s bill is generally flat and made of a soft, fibrous protein known as keratin. By comparison, human hair is 95% keratin. Levels of amino acids in the keratin determine how flexible it is.
Very few ducks actually quack. The female mallard makes the famous quacking sound usually associated with ducks.
Ducks can store extra food in their esophagi. Mallards have been known to store nearly a quarter of a pound of grain in their esophagi.
Hormone levels can change feet color in ducks. During courtship, increased hormones can cause feet to turn orange or bright red.
Ducks open the webbing on their feet during flight to create extra drag. To fly faster, they close the webbing to limit air resistance.
When paddling, ducks achieve a considerable amount of force by pushing their webbed feet not only backwards but downwards in the water.
Ducks waterproof their feathers by coating them with a waxy ointment that’s secreted from a gland at the base of the tail.
Duck wings are short and pointed and supported by strong muscles. In order to stay airborne, ducks must flap their wings in rapid succession.
While female ducks tend to have non-descript, brown feathers, male ducks have far more colorful plumage. It’s one of the ways males attract mates. The iridescent hues come from tiny crystals embedded in their feathers.
A group of ducks is referred to as a raft, team, badelynge, bunch, brace, flock or paddling. A group of ducklings, still being looked after, is called a brood.
When most birds molt, they replace flight feathers one at a time. Ducks, however, drop all their flight feathers at once, leaving them temporarily grounded.
Ducks are precocial, meaning ducklings are able to feed themselves shortly after hatching. Ducks are also omnivores. They feed on aquatic vegetation, as well as small insects, crustaceans and some fish.
Ducks fly in v-shaped patterns to reduce headwind for birds flying behind the leader. Migrating ducks follow the same flight plan they’ve used for centuries.