Everything You Need To Know About Ducks

Ducks standing in grass near a shore

They say that birds of a feather flock together, but there’s just something unique about ducks that makes them so beloved worldwide. After all, these fascinating waterfowl are found on almost every continent of the world. In fact, a study from 2017 by the Ducks Unlimited conservation group found that there were an estimated 47.3 million ducks worldwide. That’s almost the entire population of Spain!

It’s even more interesting to consider that some of these ducks are in the wild, some are kept on farms, and some of them are… in household bathtubs? Apparently, the duck’s vibrant, “talkative” personality makes them a popular pick as a pet!

It’s no secret that these curious creatures are full of spunk. They’re intelligent, exceptionally social, and love to eat, making them akin to dogs. Not to mention, ducks come in a variety of stunning breeds, coloration’s, and patterns.

Everyone knows a mallard and its dynamic colors when they see one. Not many people know, however, that the familiar white duck actually has a name “the Pekin duck” and it’s bred primarily for meat and eggs.

There are many more fascinating things to know about the world of ducks, including one thing that might just leave you speechless. We’ve got everything you need to know about ducks here in one complete guide, so don’t waddle away!

Ducks may come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, but they all seem to start off as fuzzy yellow ducklings!

What Types Of Ducks Are There?

There are mainly three groups of ducks, dabbling ducks, diving ducks and perching ducks. Ducks is a waterfowl in the family Anatidae. Swans and geese are also members of this family and in this family there are around 166 difference species.

I found 30 of the common ducks and today I want to share them together with some quick information about each duck.

Types of Dabbling Ducks

Below is a table showing common dabbling ducks.

NameLifespan
American Black Ducks2-4 years.
American Wigeon2 years.
Blue-Winged TealUp to 17 years.
Cinnamon Teal10 years.
Eurasian WigeonUp to 35 years.
Northern Pintail22 years.
Wood Duck3-4 years.
Mallard5-10 years.
Northern Shoveler2-3 years.
Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck15 years.

Types of Diving Ducks

Below is a table showing common diving ducks.

NameLifespan
Bufflehead2-3 years.
Canvasback10 years.
Ruddy Duck13 years.
RedheadUp to 22 years.
Common Goldeneye20 years.
Hodded Merganser11 years.
Red-Breasted Merganser9 years.
Greater Scaup10-12 years.
Harlequin DuckUp to 15 years.
Black ScoterUp to 10 years.

Types of Perching Ducks

Below is a table showing common perching ducks.

NameLifespan
Blue Duck12 years.
Torrent DuckUp to 18 years in captivity.
Brazilian DuckUnknown.
Comb Duck20-30 years.
Pink-Eared DuckUnknown.
Hartlaub’s Duck20-30 years.
Cotton Pygmy Goose15 years.
Mandarin Duck6 years.
Ringed Teal10-15 years in captivity.
Maned Duck15-20 years.

If you want to read more in-depth information about these ducks then check out Outforia.com.

What Do Ducks Eat?

Wild ducks tends to eat plants, seeds, insects, snails and smaller fish. They always eat, what is offered to them in their surrounding, which is near or in water. Domestic ducks eat insects, duck feed pellets, grains, mealworms, birdseed, vegetables and fruits.

If you happen to meat ducks in the park, the wild or in your garden and want to know what to feed them, then look no further. I’ve compiled lists of what vegetables, fruits, grains, insects and human food they can eat, as well as what they can’t eat.

I hope you find it helpful.

What Vegetables Can Ducks Eat?

Ducks loves vegetables, they can eat corn, bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins and many more.

I made a table below showing what vegetables ducks can eat.

VegetableInformation
ArugulaFull of antioxidants to help reverse damage to cells.
AsparagusExcellent source of Vitamin K and a healthy treat for ducks.
Bell pepperSeveral amazing vitamins and minerals, making it very healthy for ducks.
BroccoliGreat source of Vitamin K.
Brussel SproutsHigh protein and fiber together with Vitamin C & K.
CabbagePacked with Vitamin C, making it a perfect duck snack.
Carrots
Celery
Corn
Cucumber
Edamame
Green beans
Iceberg lettuce
Jalapenos
Jcama
Kale
Kidney beans
Leek
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Olives
Peas
Pinto BeansThey have an excellent mix of carbs, proteins and fiber making them a good treat.
PotatoesAlways cook the potatoes before serving. Don’t feed raw potatoes.
Pumpkins
Salad leaves
Sprouts
Tomatoes
Yams
Squash

What Fruit Can Ducks Eat?

Duck can eat several fruits such as apples, mangoes, bananas, watermelon, grapes and more.

The table below is showing the fruits ducks can eat.

FruitInformation
ApplesDon’t let the duck eat the seed they are poisonous.
Apricots
Bananas
Cantaloupe
Dates
Figs
Grapes
Honeydew melonGreat source of vitamin C and potassium. Don’t feed the rind.
Jackfruit
Kiwi
Mango
NectarinesGreat treat for ducks when fed in moderation. High in vitamin C.
Passion FruitRich in Vitamin C, same as apples, seeds contains amygdalin.
PapayaA super food and a great source of antioxidants.
Pears
PineappleGreat for Vitamin C and Manganese. Also contains bromelain which is great agains pain.
Plums
PomegranateExcellent source of vitamin C and minerals.
Raisins
Watermelon

What Berries Can Ducks Eat?

Ducks can eat blueberries, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, cranberries and more.

Below are berries that ducks can eat.

BerryInformation
Blueberries
Cranberries
GooseberriesDon’t let the duck eat leaves from bush, it very toxic and can kill the duck.
Juniper berries
Raspberries
Strawberries

What Grains Can Ducks Eat?

Below is a table showing grains ducks can eat.

GrainInformation
Rice
Spent grain
Oat

What Seeds Can Ducks Eat?

Ducks loves to eat seeds and some of their favorites are sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, birdseed and many more.

The table below is showing seeds that ducks can eat.

SeedInformation
Sunflower Seeds
Safflower seeds
Sesame seedsHigh in calcium, perfect snack for ducks laying eggs.
Pumpkin seeds
Chia seeds
Hemp seedsRich in omega-3.
Birdseed

What Plants & Herbs Can Ducks Eat?

Ducks can several herbs such as cilantro, parsley, lemon balm and rosemary.

I have listed all the herbs that ducks can eat in the table below.

HerbInformation
AlfalfaExcellent source of Vitamin K and minerals for ducks.
Aloe VeraOver 75 nutrients and very healthy. Don’t over feed can cause diarrhea.
Cilantro
Chives
Hostas
LavenderSoothing for the ducks and rich in antioxidants.
Lemon Balm
LilacsA great source of antioxidants with several health benefits.
Lovage
Rosemary
Parsley
PetuniasNon toxic flower that is safe for ducks to eat.
Sage

What Insects Can Ducks Eat?

Ducks can eat many insects such as mosquito pupae, larvae, potato beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, snails, slugs, flies, fire ants, spiders, cockroaches and many more.

In the table below you will find the insects ducks can eat.

InsectInformation
Mosquito Pupae
Japanese beetle
Larvae
Potato beetles
Grasshoppers
Snails
Slugs
Flies
Fire ants
Spiders
Cockroaches

What Can’t Ducks Eat?

Below is a table showing what ducks can’t eat.

Don’t Feed DucksInformation
AvocadoContains Persin, which is toxic and can kill a duck.
Baby SpinachDucks should not eat this because of the oxalic acid.
Coffee GroundsCaffeine is toxic to ducks and should be avoided.
EggplantIt’s toxic and can be lethal to a duck if eaten.
GrapefruitMight reduced ducks calcium absorption.
OnionsIf over consumed it can be harmful.
SpinachSame as baby spinach, the oxalic acid can cause calcium deficiency.
LemonsCan disturb calcium absorption and can also make the ducks eggs thin-shelled.
OrangesSame as lemons. This goes for all citrus fruits.
PopcornThis has a choking risk and should not be fed to ducks. Regular corn is fine.
ChocolateIt can poison the duck.
CakeHigh in sugar and should be fed to ducks.
BreadLow in nutrition and will make the ducks belly full quick.
Northern Willow HerbDon’t feed this to ducks it’s toxic.
PancakesNo nutritional value.
RhubarbContains a toxin called oxalic acid, can cause egg binding.
WafflesHold little to no nutritional value and should not be fed to ducks.
Whipped CreamDucks have problem digesting lactose and this can cause serious health issues.
TulipsDucks can’t eat them because they contain a toxin called tuliposides.

What Can Baby Ducks Eat?

Ducklings can eat pretty much any soft, digestible food they can find. A tasty treat of dandelion greens, Swiss chard, worms, moistened oatmeal, chopped grass, and other weeds are their best edibles. Somewhat, it’s quite a task satisfying their ravenous appetites for their vigorously growing bodies. And usually, ducklings tend to eat quite a lot as they wean, which significantly reduces as they grow. Also, they tend to drink a lot of fluids, so having sufficient clean water around can be handy.

What Do Ducks Eat In The Winter?

Ducks usually savor vegetative foods in winter, including rice, wheat, corn, and acorns. However, they wouldn’t lose the chance to munch on various seeds. Also, a diet of bugs and other tiny invertebrates such as snails and slugs helps build their protein reserves. However, please don’t be overly concerned about them dropping their appetites during this cold season since it’s perfectly natural.

What Do Ducks Eat In Ponds?

Duck tongues filter through the sludge and sediments in the ponds for tiny live insects and bugs. And since worms are easily digestible and satisfying for their appetites, they wouldn’t throw away the chance to play in ponds, dipping their heads in the water for a short while. Also, ducks look for water snails and amphibians in ponds, including baby tadpoles or newts in these marshy ecosystems.

Do Ducks Have Teeth?

The surprising answer is no, ducks don’t have teeth. It’s because they don’t have to chew their food. Their food is often small with no need to chew it and some species can even filter the things they eat.

A duck showing its grooves
The grooves inside a duck’s beak may look like teeth, but they serve another purpose instead.

The Foodies of the Bird World

The ducks at your neighborhood pond may love to nibble on bread, but they’d be hard pressed to find it in the wild. The duck’s natural diet consists of things like vegetation, small fish, insects, and even farmer’s corn. Talk about a pest!

Mallards and other common duck species will happily gobble up crops of corn or wheat when they come across them. Otherwise, you can find them eating fish eggs, algae, and shrimp in your local pond. But if ducks don’t have teeth, how do they chew fish and other tough material? Easy: they don’t need to!

A Hidden Ability

Ducks don’t need to chew for two reasons. One, their food is usually too small to chew in the first place. A large number of duck species actually filter feed. Like a whale, they suck in water through special folds along their duck bill called lamellae. These lamellae filter out the bad stuff, like mud or small pieces of rock.

The water is wringed out and the duck holds onto the delicious algae, plankton, or shrimp. If you’ve ever seen a duck dive to the bottom of the pond, resurface, and make a gobbling motion, he’s actually filtering through a big mouthful of dirt to get the goodies out.

The Gut Wrenching Truth (Literally)

The second reason a duck doesn’t need to chew is because his stomach will chew for him! Ducks have a small organ located alongside their intestinal tract called the gizzard. This unique organ evolved to hold gravel and pieces of silt to be used in digestion. In other words, a duck’s stomach chews for him.

These unassuming little creatures can consume entire fish or tough food like dried corn without having to chew at all, since the natural contractions of the stomach coupled with gravel help grind everything up.

By not having teeth, ducks evolved to be able to eat a wide variety of foods available year round.

A Unique Alternative

Whether you’re dealing with a Mallard, Muscovy, or Mandarin duck, one thing is for certain: ducks don’t have teeth. The little grooves you see on their bills are actually a part of a complicated system of lamellae, papillae, and other biological structures designed to help break down everything from nano-particles to whole fish.

It may seem like ducks can eat anything and everything, but the truth is, they can’t. While ducks love to eat bread, eating too much of it can cause their stomachs to swell and slowly deprive them of nutrition over time.

If you privy feeding the ducks at the local pond, why not take some corn or bird seed instead? They love it just as much (if not more) and you can admire their fascinating beaks in all their true splendor!

Does A Duck Have A Tongue?

Ducks have tongues, although they don’t serve a primary purpose like humans. These quacky birds don’t have taste buds to differentiate bitterness from saltiness or other tastes. Instead, they have tiny papillae protruding on both sides of their tongues. These tongues only help facilitate their swallowing, directing food towards the esophagus. Besides, the papillae act as sieves to filter out the edibles from water.

What Is a Duck Mouth Called?

A duck mouth is called a bill or beak. Unlike other birds’ beaks, duck bills are flattened and blunt at the tips. Besides, they’re broad with rows of fine notches along either edge called lamellae. These lamellae act as primary filters for sediments in the water and mud for worms and other tiny aquatic insects. Duck beaks don’t have a specific color but vary depending on their body color or appear more varied altogether.

Do Ducks Have Ears?

Ducks have ears, unlike humans, which are relatively easy to spot. They’re located right below and behind their eyes and seem like tiny holes. Mostly, these holes are covered with little feathers called auriculars to muffle wind disturbance during flight and offer more protection.

How Do Ducks Float On Water?

Ducks have compact feathers with minuscule interlocking barbs that aid in trapping air to increase their buoyancy. Besides, the preen gland at the base of their tails releases oil that spreads on their feathers to repel water, further aiding their ability to float. Similarly, their hollow bones are too light to pull weight, enabling them to float.

Watching ducks floating while flapping their wings is often mesmerizing, and it all seems natural. However, while they do that out of intuition, there’s usually a valid reason their instincts guide them to. Air is generally weightless; the more they store it in their bodies, the more it increases their volume and drops the mass to volume ratio, infusing buoyancy.

Also, their body fats and oils lower their density, and they can float in the water quite effortlessly.

Duck floating in water.

Do Ducks Need the Energy to Float?

Ducks usually don’t use even an ounce of energy to float; it comes naturally and effortlessly. However, they only need to balance their bodies and position them right to keep afloat for long. Ducks may need to paddle their feet if they need to move around, which is relatively easy due to their webbed feet.

How Long Can a Duck Float in Water?

While ducks can float in water for as long as a day and as much as they please, their best span should be several hours. Afterward, they may get tired and become less mobile. Usually, ducks stay afloat in the water and drift around when they get tired, so they may not need to come out of the water for some rest. That means minimizing activities such as paddling and diving for food underwater.

Do Ducks Paddle to Float?

Ducks only paddle their feet to move around and not to stay afloat. Their bodies have all the features to enable them to remain above water effortlessly. When they feel tired, they minimize all body movements and stay still on the water to regain energy before resuming activity. Paddling helps them dive into the water or relocate places.

Can Ducks Drown in Water?

Ducks can drown in water, but that only happens under a few conditions. Injuries, hypothermia, and water-logging are the practical reasons a duck may drown instead of staying afloat. However, exhaustion is a rare cause since ducks can stay still in the water to restore their energy when tired. Exhaustion can only be fatal under intense activity like vigorous mating or a predator charging after them while they escape.

Remember that ducks can also dive into water purposefully to capture underwater prey, including larvae and bugs. So, don’t get nervous if your duck disappears underwater for a while. Only make it your concern if they stay underwater for more than a minute, which is quite the period they can survive without breathing.

Why Do Ducks Quack?

Ducks do quack for several reasons, but it’s usually more dominant when startled or warning others about imminent danger. They do that to communicate or get attention when alone, but some species like mallards do it often when mating.

Ducks may also quack when happy, but the typically loud “Honk” sound usually becomes apparent to express excitement.

Do All Ducks Quack?

Although duck quacking is quite cliché, some ducks surprisingly don’t quack. Most males usually don’t quack as much as the females and may sound raspy or give out suppressed quacks. Some breeds like the Muscovy ducks do it since they prefer staying quiet and enjoying their calm.

However, most other breeds like the mallards, American black ducks, and Pacific black ducks are synonymous with quacking. They do it more when startled, and their females take it over the edge with loud and frequent quacking.

Why do Male Ducks Not Quack?

Male ducks don’t quack because they don’t have the specialized vocal cords to produce the sound. These technical chords vibrate differently from the standard ones. Besides, their voice boxes (larynx) are positioned differently than females, disabling them from making this unique sound.

Some males may sound like they’re quacking in a more suppressed manner, although that’s unlikely for all duck breeds.

Why Do Ducks Quack at Night?

Ducks don’t usually quack at night since they spend most of that time sleeping, grooming each other, and staying close. However, ducks may quack at night when they feel threatened and have to warn others about possible danger.

It’s a standard response to stimuli, and they do that almost involuntarily. Ducks may also quack in the wee hours if they’re feeding. It’s typical behavior for domesticated ducks, especially if food is in their vicinity.

Ducks in the wild prefer hiding their presence by staying quiet at night to avoid predators. However, they can quack at night in a secure habitat.

Do Ducks Quack When Sick?

Ducks tend to be so quiet when sick and will hardly quack. Instead, they’ll appear crouching with their eyes closed and move minimally. Wild duck breeds may not even fly away when approached and won’t make any startled sound if they’re severely sick.

Domesticated breeds also won’t seem bothered with humans approaching them either. Always be on the lookout for imminent signs of sickness and treat them as soon as possible to prevent worsening.

Do Ducklings Quack?

Baby ducks don’t quack as adults and will instead make cute chirping sounds to express excitement or discomfort. They’ll chirp more when hungry and thirsty and sometimes do it more when sick.

These sounds can be more pronounced at night and go far and beyond, almost insuppressible. Ducklings may begin quacking as they near maturity, and it’s usually a sign that they’re ready to reproduce.

What Do Ducks usually Do When Quacking?

Ducks usually bob their heads as they quack rhythmically, which is quite apparent when they’re about to mate. It’s a typical public display of affection, and the behavior becomes less noticeable with time as they string into a more “meaningful conversation” after meeting up. Most ducks would stretch their necks, thrusting their heads ahead, and appear restless when quacking.

How Do Ducks Sleep At Night?

Ducks are semi-nocturnal and don’t spend their entire night in slumber. Mostly, they sleep in groups in the comfort of each other’s warmth, mainly in a row. According to a study, ducks sleep for about 10.8 hours a day while choosing to groom each other or have a “chit-chat” for the time they’re awake.

Wild duck species always look out for nocturnal predators at night and will have a few members as watch guards, remaining alert to notify the rest in case of impending danger.

What Are The Natural Predators Of Ducks?

Some of the most common duck predators are raccoons, cats, dogs, hawks, owls, foxes and snakes.

Below are 8 common duck predators.

1. Raccoons

Raccoons are a common and dangerous predators of ducks as they can be found almost anywhere. They are omnivorous scavengers with strong jaws, which can easily grab a duck and then kill it by tearing off the head or neck.

2. Cats

Cats also love to hunt and kill ducks but are less common almost everywhere. These cats are more stealthy and more dangerous as they can be hiding anywhere.

3. Snakes

Snakes are very common in nature and many of them are even carnivores. They feed on almost anything including insects, small birds and even whole animals. Snakes can be hard for a duck to spot, and some species can even swim and kill a duck in water.

4. Hawks

Hawks are another very common predator found in almost any environment. They hunt by stalking their prey and then dive at them when they are within range. They can kill a duck by grabbing them or striking them with their claws. Hawks have a large sharp talon which can easily snatch a duck as they fly past giving these predators an immediate advantage over any duck that is in their way.

5. Owls

Owls are also another widespread predator seen all over the world. Owls are mainly nocturnal so they hunt at night but also during daytime too. They have been known to hunt by using their excellent hearing to find out where the ducks are then sneak up behind them and grab them with their talons.

6. Foxes

Foxes are another common all-round predator whose main target is a duck. They have been known to hunt both on land and in water thus making them a deadly predator to ducks.

7. Eagles

Eagles are also another very common predator of ducks especially when they are migrating or nesting. Eagles have got an excellent vision compared to humans so they can spot a duck in only a split second making them an instant threat.

8. Falcons

Falcons are mainly hunters that feed on a large range of prey including birds, animals and mammals. They have been known to hunt in both land and water environments and most ducks are their main meals. They grab their prey in flight by diving at the bird at high speed then grabbing it before it can fly away.

Can You Have A Duck As A Pet?

Ducks make great pets for a number of reasons. They are relatively easy to care for, and they are interesting to watch. In addition, ducks can be quite friendly and will often follow their owners around.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that ducks require a lot of space and possibility to poop outside. If you live in a small apartment, a duck may not be the best pet for you. The poop stinks a lot and diapers are not comfortable for ducks.

Do Ducks Bite?

There is no simple answer to this question as it depends on the context and situation in which the duck is encountered. In general, ducks are not aggressive animals and will only bite if they feel threatened or attacked.

However, there are some ducks that have a tendency to be more aggressive, such as the Muscovy duck, and they may be more likely to bite people or animals if they feel threatened.

Conclusion

Ducks are amazing water fowls, with great character and super cute to look at. Every time me and my family go to the park we always feed the ducks and my kids love it! We did not know better and fed them bread for the first couple of times. I finally did some research on what ducks can eat and created the lists you see above.

There are so much better things to feed ducks than bread, that will make them full and happy. My daughters wanted to know more about wildlife and ducks, the result became this awesome page about ducks.

I hope you find the information useful, thanks for reading!