We all are familiar with ducks. Ducks are the members of the family Anatidae and belong to the class Aves. They shouldn’t be confused with the large birds such as the swans and geese. Ducks are small aquatic birds inhabiting both sea and fresh waters. Baby ducks are called as ducklings but in food trade the adult ducks which are ready to undergo roasting are called as ducklings.
Body of a duck is wide and elongated with flexible and long neck like that of larger birds. The body shape of the diving ducks is somewhat curved in shape. Bill or beak is somewhat broad and covered with serrated lamellae accommodated for filter feeding. The bill is long and strongly serrated in the fishing species. Legs are supplied with scales and are placed somewhat on the back side of the body. Wings are strong, short and pointed out and the flight in ducks is made up of fast continuous strokes which require rapid movement of the flight muscles. Many species remain temporarily flightless during moulting and during this period they require very good food supply and protective places to hide. This moult typically precedes migration.
Paradise Shelduck of New Zealand shows well developed sexual dimorphism at which the plumage of female is very much bright in comparison to that of male. Plumage of ducklings generally resembles with that of the female. Ducks prefer to feed on a wide array of food sources like grasses, fish, insects, aquatic plants, small amphibians, worms and other molluscs. Body of diving ducks is somewhat heavier than the dabbling ducks so they are unable to fly. Dabbling ducks feed on the substances found on the surface of water of they capture food on land. At the edge of the beak there’s a comb-like structure known as pecten. It acts like strainer and assists in food capture. Pecten is also utilized in preening.
Some species like smew and the goosanders are able to catch and swallow large fishes. Other species have flat beaks for pulling up waterweed, yanking sand and small molluscs, insects and other worms. Ducks are monogamous and this bond proceeds for one year only. Larger and more sedentary species have long lasting pair bonds. Most species tend to breed once in year under favourable conditions. The noise produced by ducks is called quacking and it is understood that the females of most dabbling species quack. Diving ducks scaup. Ducks have a wide range of calls like whistle cooing, yodels and grunt. Calls may be loud or quite contact calls.
They are cosmopolitan in distribution occurring in all parts of the world except Antarctica. Some species have been found to inhabit sub-Antarctic islands such as South Georgia and Auckland Islands. Few species have been also noticed to occupy the oceanic islands while some are threatened or have become extinct. Some species are migratory especially those belonging to the Arctic Northern Hemisphere. Tropical species don’t migrate at all. Australian duck species form loose spots during the rainy season. Many creatures predate upon ducks. The ducklings are extremely vulnerable to be attacked by predators. Foxes, eagles, crocodiles are common enemies of ducks. Although the adult ducks are powerful fliers but may be captured by their enemies on the surface of water and on land. Ducks share lots of economic uses.
They are farmed for meat, eggs and feathers. They’re kept and bred by the aviculturists and are also displayed in zoos. Wild ducks can also be consumed as food in many parts of world. Ducks are also a component of fiction such as the Donald Duck that’s a famous cartoon character and appeared in Walt Disney for the first time in 1934. Daffy Duck is a also a famous cartoon character in the Warner Brothersfilms.
Ducks are adorable animals making our environment beautiful.