Duck Facts



  • Ducks, geese and swans are known as waterfowl, and they all live on or near freshwater.
  • Waterfowl can float for hours and have webbed feet for paddling along. On water they are graceful, but on land they waddle awkwardly, since their legs are set far back under their body for swimming.
  • Ducks have shorter necks and wings, and flatter bills than swans. Male ducks are called drakes, and females, ducks. Babies are called ducklings.
  • Canada geese breed in the far north of Canada and Alaska, and migrate south to warmer regions in the autumn.
  • Diving ducks (such as the pochard, tufted duck and the scoter) dive for food such as roots, shellfish and insects on the river bed.
  • Dabbling ducks (such as the mallard, widgeon, gadwall and the teal) dabble – they sift water through their beaks for food.
  • Some dabblers lap water at the surface. Others up-end – sticking their heads into the water to sift out water weeds and snails from muddy water.
  • Swans are the largest waterfowl. They have long elegant necks and pure white plumage – apart from the blackneck swan of South America and the Australian black swan.
  • Baby swans are called cygnets and are mottled grey.
  • Geese mostly graze on grass. Unlike ducks, which quack and swans which hiss, geese honk.
  • Baby geese are called goslings.