Ducks are adorable creatures you’ve likely fed out of your hand at one time in your life. They also make for fun cartoon characters. But there are so many amazing facts about ducks you probably don’t know, like how they can live to be 20 years old, and how male ducks can’t quack!
In truth, there are many interesting facts about ducks. They only turn off half of their brain while sleeping, female ducks are the only ones that actually “quack” and ducks have a 360 degree field of vision due to their eyes being on the side of their head.
Ready to learn some interesting facts you may not have known before? Alright, let’s get into it!
1. Ducks Fly Well And Can Migrate Long Distances
Did you think only super fast birds like eagles could fly high in the sky and travel over long distances?
Well, you might be surprised that ducks are mighty good fliers as well!
Here in the United States of America, there are sometimes ducks who fly over all the way from Europe or Asia.
While this does not happen too often, it can happen and is pretty cool when it does!
2. There Are Different Names For The Different Duck Genders
An adult female duck is not only called a duck, but also a hen.
An adult male duck has the same name as a very famous rapper, drake. Yep, it’s true!
3. Ducks Live Long, Productive Lives
Some animals live longer than others. Ducks are one of those animals!
While it may seem as though a duck only lives a couple of years, in reality, they live much longer than that.
In fact, a duck can live anywhere between five years and up to twenty years of age!
4. Ducks Live Everywhere, Except On One Continent
Ducks are found almost everywhere. If you tried to count how many ducks you have seen in your life… It is probably a lot, right?
It is interesting to note that while ducks can be found in multitudes, they live everywhere except for one continent: Antarctica.
5. Ducks Look For Food In The Water
Diving deep into the rivers, lakes, and oceans, ducks hunt for yummy fish to eat.
Ducks can swim quite deep into the water because they are heavy enough to do so.
They are also often found near bodies of water, so they naturally look for food in that area too.
6. Duck Feathers Make Fancy Coats and Comfy Pillows
People love down jackets and the feel of their head hitting a soft pillow at the end of a long, hard day of work.
Duck feathers are often found stuffed into jackets, as well as in pillows. They are soft, therefore make good filler that some folks love.
7. Some People Keep Ducks As Pets
Dogs are man’s best friends. Cats are cuddly animals who curl up in your lap. And ducks are…wait, people keep ducks as pets too?
They sure do!
Some ducks are kind and calm, and people keep them as pets on their farms or yard. Ducks also love being fed which is why you have most likely seen people feeding them bread at the local fountain or pond.
8. The Other Name For Ducks Is Waterfowl
Ducks are also commonly known by the name “waterfowl”.
They are called waterfowl because they often reside by water, whether that be a pond, lake, fountain, or river.
So the next time you hear someone point at a duck and call it a waterfowl, you will know exactly what they mean!
9. Ducks Lay Eggs In The Daylight
Ducks lay more eggs when there is more daylight. Pretty cool, right?
So if you are on a farm with a ton of duck eggs, it is safe to assume that they get a lot of sunshine in that area!
Sometimes farmers have to install artificial light to balance the number of eggs their ducks lay.
10. Ducks Eat Both Animal and Plant Matter
Ducks are omnivores which means that they eat both animal matter and plants.
They will eat grass, leaves, fish, small insects like worms and bugs, as well as other small, similar things.
They are not too picky when it comes to food, and being nourished is the most vital thing for them.
11. Ducks Like To Hang Out With Their Friends
Ducks are very sociable creatures. They are not loners or isolated animals.
This is why you will rarely see one alone. Usually, when you see one duck, you will see quite a few others. They like to travel and meander around in groups or packs!
12. Ducks Only Turn Off Half Their Brain When Sleeping
Ever heard the phrase, “sleep with one eye open”?
Well, ducks can do exactly that! It may seem impossible, but they sure can do it.
To stay safe from predators and other dangerous animals or people, ducks can turn off half of their brain, while keeping the other half alert.
Therefore, they have the super-cool ability to keep one eye open!
13. Baby Ducklings Follow Their Mother’s In Single File
There is a famous children’s picture book called “Make Way For The Ducklings.”
In it, a herd of baby ducks, known as ducklings, follow their mother duck around town.
Ducklings do exactly that. They follow their mothers in a single file line and let her lead the way. Cue the “awwww’s” from the audience!
14. Duck Feathers Are Protected From Water
Ducks have waterproof feathers which are greatly beneficial to them when they swim through water or dive down deep to find fish and other means of sustenance.
So how exactly are ducks’ feathers waterproof?
Ducks can spread a wax-like layer onto their feathers when they are cleaning themselves. This, along with the pattern of their feathers, protects them from getting waterlogged or laden with too much water.
15. Duck Feet Serve Many Purposes
As you may already know, ducks have webbed feet which leads to them waddling side-to-side, rather than walking in a straight line.
These webbed feet help ducks keep their balance, as well as help them swim very well when they are in the water.
16. Ducks Fall in Love in The Winter
Ducks fall in love, or find partners, during the wintertime when it is cold outside and cozy inside.
Like many animals, the male ducks show off their shiny feathers in the hopes of attracting a mate.
Breeding usually takes place in the springtime when the weather is warmer and the flowers begin to bloom.
This is why you will see ducklings most often in the spring and early summer. They grow very fast too, so try to get a look at them while they are still babies!
17. A Duck’s Breeding Area Becomes Their Home
When ducks breed, the female duck will most likely give birth to her brood of ducklings in that very same place.
That is where she is comfortable, so that is where she will feel safest with her babies.
After all, what a hen wants the most is for her ducklings to stay safe from predators and other dangerous situations.
18. Ducklings Grow Up Fast!
Ducklings are born within twenty-eight days. The Muscovy breed of ducks can take up to thirty-six days to hatch.
Within a couple of months, these ducklings will be able to fly and stay safe from other larger animals.
Ducklings are not small for very long. They really do grow up way too fast!
19. Many Other Animals Hunt And Attack Ducks
As awesome as ducks are, they are very small. This, unfortunately, makes them natural targets for larger predators.
Ducks have to be very vigilant and keep themselves very safe from animals like eagles, hawks, coyotes, foxes, and raccoons.
20. Ducks Can See Far With Their Powerful Eyesight
Ducks’ eyes are on the side of their heads which lends them the ability to have almost 360 degrees of vision.
How crazy is that?
They also have three eyelids which are very unique and uncommon in most other animals.
Their vision allows them to see far and near as well which is fantastic because not only does it make them better hunters, but also keeps them safe from being hunted.
21. Ducks Do Not Get As Cold As Humans Do
Brrr! It is freezing out there!
Are you cold? Well, what about those ducks? Not so much!
Ducks have the incredible ability to keep their webbed feet warm. While humans’ feet get cold whenever the temperature drops, duck feet do not!
Their feathers keep them warm, so snow and cold weather do not impede their daily progress for migrating or finding food.
Ducks’ webbed feet are unique because they lack nerves and blood vessels.
22. Not Only Do Ducks Travel Far, But They Can Fly Super High Too
When you see airplanes in the sky above your house, you feel as though they are pretty far away, right?
Well, ducks can fly that high as well!
Ducks usually fly anywhere between two hundred to four thousand feet up in the air. One duck was spotted once flying as high as twenty-one thousand feet, which was as high as an airplane.
Next time you see an airplane in the sky, look closer because it just might be a duck!
23. It’s the Female Ducks That Say “Quack!”
Hens, also known as female ducks, make the famous “quack” sound that is so often replicated in popular media.
Most of the other ducks make different noises like whistling, grunting, cawing, and other similar sounds.
They have a variety of different calls that they make, and next time you come across a group of ducks, pay attention because you will probably hear a bunch of different sounds.
24. We Need To Take Better Care Of Ducks’ Environments
Humans’ actions, or inactions, can result in harm to ducks and their surroundings.
Climate change has led to areas where there is not enough water for the ducks to survive or in which to find fish or to swim.
So as long as we do our part, ducks should still be okay and have a safe place to call home.
25. Mandarin Ducks Are The Most Popular
There is a duck species known as the Mandarin duck and some regard it as the most beautiful duck ever.
It lives in East Asia and its feathers are an array of reds and oranges and blues.
Take a look at a picture of it online, (or better yet, go see one in person!) and I think you will agree that it is one good-looking duck!
There are also many other interesting-looking ducks. The next time you come across a group of ducks, see if you can find differences in the way they look or the variety of the colors in their feathers.
26. Ducks Sleep On The Water
While you may rest your head on your bed at the end of the day, ducks do not, unsurprisingly, sleep in beds.
Ducks sleep on the water at night and, as we mentioned earlier, they can keep watch for predators because their one eye is open.
Staying safe while sleeping is important for ducks and their offspring.
27. Ducks Can Develop An Attachment to Humans
As mentioned earlier, some ducks are kept as pets and live on peoples’ farms. They can very easily be domesticated and they are easy animals to live with.
Ducks can develop an attachment to the humans in their lives, much as cats and dogs do.
They will recognize the people who spend the most time with them and will walk around after them and look forward to seeing them.
After all, those domesticated ducks sure do know who will feed them, so they know to go after the right person!
28. Duck Eggs Are A Delicacy In Some Places
Not only do people eat chicken eggs or quail eggs, but they also eat duck eggs.
Duck eggs are popular in some areas. The eggs are of a different color than chickens’ eggs which you would normally find in a grocery store.
29. Ducks Are Incredibly Intelligent And Are Fast Learners
Ducks learn very quickly. They are smarter than you may initially believe.
If you teach them to return to their pen every night or even teach them their name, ducks will surprisingly learn it and respond to you when you call them.
Now the next time you see ducks, you will think to yourself all that you now know about them!
Confusing Domestic Ducks (and hybrids). Cornell University. https://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/domducks.htm
Duck. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. https://afs.ca.uky.edu/poultry/duck
Johnson, D. H., & Grier, J. W. (1988). Determinants of breeding distributions of ducks. Wildlife Monographs, 3-37.
Phillips, J. C. (1986). A Natural History of the Ducks: Plectropterinae, Dendrocygninae, Anatinae (in part)(1 v.) (Vol. 1). Courier Corporation.