Ducks are birds in the family Anatidae. Ducks are closely related to swans and geese, which are in the same family.
|The brown bird on the left is the female; the brightly colored one on the right is the male, called a drake. This is the most common duck in the world, the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)|
Ducks are not a monophyletic group. They are a 'form taxon'. Swans and geese are in the same family but are not called ducks. The main difference is that ducks have shorter necks, and are smaller.
Other swimming and diving birds, like grebes and loons, are not ducks. A baby duck is called a duckling, and a male duck is called a drake. Most ducks are aquatic birds. They can be found in both saltwater and fresh water.
The subfamily Anatinae ("dabbling ducks") feed on the surface of water or on land, or as deep as they can reach by up-ending without completely submerging.
Ducks lay eggs once a year and are omnivorous, eating aquatic plants and tiny animals. Along the edge of the beak there is a comb-like structure called a pecten. This strains the water squirting from the side of the beak and traps any food. The pecten is also used to preen feathers. Diving ducks dive deep to get their food.
Many ducks are migratory. This means that they spend the summer months in a different place than the winter months. Ducks show a cosmopolitan distribution, meaning they can be found all over the world, except for Antarctica. Some duck species live on the South Georgia and Auckland Islands, which are subantarctic. Many species have established themselves on remote islands, such as Kerguelen or Hawaii.
Ducks are sometimes kept as pets. They are often kept by groups of people on public ponds for their beauty and calming nature. People commonly feed ducks in ponds stale bread, thinking that the ducks will like to have something to eat. However, bread is not healthy for ducks and can kill them. In nature, ducks eat grasses, aquatic plants, fish, insects, small amphibians, worms, and small molluscs.
Some ducks are bred and kept by humans. They are not wild ducks. They are kept to provide food (meat and eggs), or to use their feathers for pillows and other items in the house. Especially in Asia, many people like to eat duck.
Duck meat is high in fat, which helps the bird float in the water.
The eggs from ducks are thought to have a richer taste than chicken eggs.
- ↑ Etymology: Ancient Greek for "flat-billed duck" 
- ↑ Titlow, Budd (2013). Bird Brains: inside the strange minds of our fine feathered friends. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780762797707.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Ogden, Evans. "Dabbling ducks". CWE. Retrieved 2006-11-02.
- ↑ "Fat in Duck meat". fitaudit.com. Retrieved 2021-07-10.
- ↑ Mark, Jorie (2020-08-07). "You should be using duck eggs for baking. Here's why". Mashed.com. Retrieved 2021-07-10.