All of us are familiar with ducks. They shouldn’t be confused with the big 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 that are prepared to undergo roasting are called as ducklings.
Body of a duck is wide and elongated with flexible and long neck like that of 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 from the fishing species. Legs are supplied with scales and are put somewhat on the trunk of the body. Wings are strong, short and pointed out and the flight in ducks is made up of fast continuous strokes that require rapid movement of their flight muscles. Many species remain temporarily flightless during moulting and in this period they require very good food supply and protective areas to hide.
Paradise Shelduck of New Zealand shows well developed sexual dimorphism at which the plumage of female is extremely much bright compared to that of male. Ducks prefer to feed on a huge array of food sources such as grasses, fish, insects, aquatic plants, small amphibians, worms and other molluscs. Body of diving ducks is somewhat heavier than the dabbling ducks so they’re unable to fly. Dabbling ducks feed on the substances found on the surface of water of they catch food on land. In the edge of the beak there’s a comb-like structure called pecten. It behaves like strainer and assists in food capture. Pecten is also used in preening.
Some species such as smew and the goosanders have the ability to catch and swallow huge fishes. Other species have flat beaks for pulling up waterweed, yanking sand and smaller molluscs, insects and other worms. Ducks are monogamous and this bond proceeds for one year only. Most species have a tendency to breed once annually under favourable conditions. The noise produced by ducks is called quacking and it’s understood that the females of most dabbling species quack. Ducks have a wide assortment of calls like whistle cooing, yodels and grunt. Calls may be loud or very contact calls.
They are cosmopolitan in distribution happening in all areas of the world except Antarctica. Some species are found to occupy 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 particularly those belonging to the Arctic Northern Hemisphere. Tropical species don’t migrate in any way. 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. Although the adult ducks are powerful fliers but can be captured by their enemies on the surface of water and on land. Ducks share lots of economic uses.
They’re farmed for meat, feathers and eggs. They’re kept and bred by the aviculturists and are also exhibited 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.
Ducks are adorable animals making our environment beautiful.