There are more than 120 breeds of ducks in the world, and they exhibit a huge variety of personality types, colors, and habits. From the white and orange Pekin duck to the odd-looking Muscovy, these aquatic fowl live on all of the continents except Antarctica and catch much of their food by diving under the water. Because they can find food on dry land or in the water, they do well in a wide variety of climates.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Aves
Order - Anseriformes
Family - Anatidae
Genus - Anas
Species & Subspecies - A. platyrhynchos (Wild Mallard); A. p. domesticus; Domestic Duck
Ducks have fleshy, webbed feet to help them swim through the water. Their outer feathers are sleek and coated with oils to repel water and keep them dry. Close to the skin, ducks have a layer of down feathers. The outer feathers keep the down dry so that the ducks can stay warm, even in very cold weather. Ducks have flat, broad bills that are specifically designed to filter water away from food, similar to the way that whales filter food from the water. Ducks often make a quacking sound, but certain types do not quack. All ducks use a wide variety of sounds like whistles and grunts to communicate with one another. Ducks can be black, brown, beige and white. Mallards and other varieties of wild ducks also have green, iridescent feathers.
Ducks are usually monogamous, at least for a single breeding season. After a female duck has mated with a male, she finds a quiet place to create a nest. She will lay a dozen or more eggs and then will incubate them. The male may stay nearby to guard the mother and the eggs. The eggs usually hatch in about 28 days, and the ducklings can swim right after hatching. Often, the male then abandons the mother and the ducklings.
Ducks love the water, although they can live on dry land. If they are raised without enough water to swim in, they have to have enough water to duck their heads under. Their sinuses are connected to their oral cavity, and they must rinse the sinuses of food that may become trapped in them. Some ducks are "dabbling" ducks that briefly dip their heads underwater to retrieve food. However, other ducks are "diving" ducks that completely submerge to reach edibles. In very cold climates, ducks may migrate to warmer areas when winter arrives.
All breeds of ducks except Muskovies are descendants of the wild Mallard duck. History does not tell when ducks were first domesticated, but drawings from around 1300 BC show a Pharaoh of Egypt sacrificing a duck. Southeast Asians and Romans were also breeding ducks in captivity as early as 500 BC.
Ducks are located all over the world. There are more than 120 species of ducks on all continents except Antarctica. They live well in the wild, and they are also farmed for their meat, eggs, and feathers.