Duck

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Duck
Bucephala-albeola-010.jpg
Bufflehead
(Bucephala albeola)
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Superfamily: Anatoidea
Family:Anatidae
Subfamilies

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Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the waterfowl family Anatidae which also includes swans and geese. Ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the family Anatidae; they do not represent a monophyletic group (the group of all descendants of a single common ancestral species) but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered ducks. Ducks are mostly aquatic birds, mostly smaller than the swans and geese, and may be found in both fresh water and sea water.

Family is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

Anatidae Biological family of water birds

The Anatidae are the biological family of water birds that includes ducks, geese, and swans. The family has a cosmopolitan distribution, occurring on all the world's continents. These birds are adapted for swimming, floating on the water surface, and in some cases diving in at least shallow water. The family contains around 146 species in 43 genera.

Swan large water bird

Swans are birds of the family Anatidae within the genus Cygnus. The swans' closest relatives include the geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae. There are six or seven living species of swan in the genus Cygnus; in addition, there is another species known as the coscoroba swan, although this species is no longer considered one of the true swans. Swans usually mate for life, although “divorce” sometimes occurs, particularly following nesting failure, and if a mate dies, the remaining swan will take up with another. The number of eggs in each clutch ranges from three to eight.

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Ducks are sometimes confused with several types of unrelated water birds with similar forms, such as loons or divers, grebes, gallinules, and coots.

Loon genus of birds

The loons or divers are a group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Eurasia. All living species of loons are members of the genus Gavia, family Gaviidae and order Gaviiformes.

Grebe family of birds

A grebe is a member of the order Podicipediformes and the only type of bird associated with this order.

Rail (bird) family of birds

The rails, or Rallidae, are a large cosmopolitan family of small- to medium-sized, ground-living birds. The family exhibits considerable diversity and includes the crakes, coots, and gallinules. Many species are associated with wetlands, although the family is found in every terrestrial habitat except dry deserts, polar regions, and alpine areas above the snow line. Members of the Rallidae occur on every continent except Antarctica. Numerous island species are known. The most common rail habitats are marshland and dense forest. They are especially fond of dense vegetation.

Etymology

Mallard landing in approach Mallard drake .02.jpg
Mallard landing in approach
Pacific black duck displaying the characteristic upending "duck". Pacific Black Ducks on pond ducking.jpg
Pacific black duck displaying the characteristic upending "duck".

The word duck comes from Old English * dūce "diver", a derivative of the verb *dūcan "to duck, bend down low as if to get under something, or dive", because of the way many species in the dabbling duck group feed by upending; compare with Dutch duiken and German tauchen "to dive".

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 23 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

This word replaced Old English ened/ænid "duck", possibly to avoid confusion with other Old English words, like ende "end" with similar forms. Other Germanic languages still have similar words for "duck", for example, Dutch eend "duck", German Ente "duck" and Norwegian and "duck". The word ened/ænid was inherited from Proto-Indo-European; compare: Latin anas "duck", Lithuanian ántis "duck", Ancient Greek nēssa/nētta (νῆσσα, νῆττα) "duck", and Sanskrit ātí "water bird", among others.

Proto-Indo-European language proto-language (last common ancestor) of the Indo-European language family

Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the linguistic reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, the most widely spoken language family in the world.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Lithuanian language Language spoken in Lithuania

Lithuanian is a Baltic language spoken in the Baltic region. It is the language of Lithuanians and the official language of Lithuania as well as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.9 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 200,000 abroad.

A duckling is a young duck in downy plumage [1] or baby duck, [2] but in the food trade a young domestic duck which has just reached adult size and bulk and its meat is still fully tender, is sometimes labelled as a duckling.

A male duck is called a drake and the female is called a duck, or in ornithology a hen. [3] [4]

Ornithology study of birds

Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds. Several aspects of ornithology differ from related disciplines, due partly to the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds.

Morphology

Male Mandarin duck Mandarin.duck.arp.jpg
Male Mandarin duck

The overall body plan of ducks is elongated and broad, and the ducks are also relatively long-necked, albeit not as long-necked as the geese and swans. The body shape of diving ducks varies somewhat from this in being more rounded. The bill is usually broad and contains serrated lamellae, which are particularly well defined in the filter-feeding species. In the case of some fishing species the bill is long and strongly serrated. The scaled legs are strong and well developed, and generally set far back on the body, more so in the highly aquatic species. The wings are very strong and are generally short and pointed, and the flight of ducks requires fast continuous strokes, requiring in turn strong wing muscles. Three species of steamer duck are almost flightless, however. Many species of duck are temporarily flightless while moulting; they seek out protected habitat with good food supplies during this period. This moult typically precedes migration.

The drakes of northern species often have extravagant plumage, but that is moulted in summer to give a more female-like appearance, the "eclipse" plumage. Southern resident species typically show less sexual dimorphism, although there are exceptions such as the paradise shelduck of New Zealand, which is both strikingly sexually dimorphic and in which the female's plumage is brighter than that of the male. The plumage of juvenile birds generally resembles that of the female. Over the course of evolution, female ducks have evolved to have a corkscrew shaped vagina to prevent rape.

Behaviour

Feeding

Pecten along the beak Duck 1 filter teeth edit.jpg
Pecten along the beak

Ducks eat a variety of food sources such as grasses, aquatic plants, fish, insects, small amphibians, worms, and small molluscs.

Dabbling ducks feed on the surface of water or on land, or as deep as they can reach by up-ending without completely submerging. [5] 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 and to hold slippery food items.

Diving ducks and sea ducks forage deep underwater. To be able to submerge more easily, the diving ducks are heavier than dabbling ducks, and therefore have more difficulty taking off to fly.

A few specialized species such as the mergansers are adapted to catch and swallow large fish.

The others have the characteristic wide flat beak adapted to dredging-type jobs such as pulling up waterweed, pulling worms and small molluscs out of mud, searching for insect larvae, and bulk jobs such as dredging out, holding, turning head first, and swallowing a squirming frog. To avoid injury when digging into sediment it has no cere, but the nostrils come out through hard horn.

The Guardian (British newspaper) published an article advising that ducks should not be fed with bread because it damages the health of the ducks and pollutes waterways. [6]

Breeding

A Muscovy duck duckling. Parrulo -Muscovy duckling.jpg
A Muscovy duck duckling.

Ducks generally only have one partner at a time, although it usually only lasts one year. [7] Larger species and the more sedentary species (like fast river specialists) tend to have pair-bonds that last numerous years. [8] Most duck species breed once a year, choosing to do so in favourable conditions (spring/summer or wet seasons). Ducks also tend to make a nest before breeding, and, after hatching, lead their ducklings to water. Mother ducks are very caring and protective of their young, but may abandon some of their ducklings if they are physically stuck in an area they cannot get out of (such as nesting in an enclosed courtyard) or are not prospering due to genetic defects or sickness brought about by hypothermia, starvation, or disease. Ducklings can also be orphaned by inconsistent late hatching where a few eggs hatch after the mother has abandoned the nest and led her ducklings to water [9] . Most domestic ducks neglect their eggs and ducklings, and their eggs must be hatched under a broody hen or artificially.

Communication

Female mallard ducks make the classic "quack" sound while males make a similar but raspier sound that is sometimes written as "breeeeze", [10] but despite widespread misconceptions, most species of duck do not "quack". [11] In general, ducks make a wide range of calls, ranging from whistles, cooing, yodels and grunts. For example, the scaup which are diving ducks make a noise like "scaup" (hence their name). Calls may be loud displaying calls or quieter contact calls.

A common urban legend claims that duck quacks do not echo; however, this has been proven to be false. This myth was first debunked by the Acoustics Research Centre at the University of Salford in 2003 as part of the British Association's Festival of Science. [12] It was also debunked in one of the earlier episodes of the popular Discovery Channel television show MythBusters . [13]

Distribution and habitat

Flying steamer ducks in Ushuaia, Argentina Last day in Ushuaia, Argentina.Flying Steamer-Ducks (Tachyeres patachonicus) in various artistic settings.Harbour silhouettes. (25921897721).jpg
Flying steamer ducks in Ushuaia, Argentina

The ducks have a cosmopolitan distribution. A number of species manage to live on sub-Antarctic islands like South Georgia and the Auckland Islands. Numerous ducks have managed to establish themselves on oceanic islands such as Hawaii, New Zealand and Kerguelen, although many of these species and populations are threatened or have become extinct.

Some duck species, mainly those breeding in the temperate and Arctic Northern Hemisphere, are migratory; those in the tropics, however, are generally not. Some ducks, particularly in Australia where rainfall is patchy and erratic, are nomadic, seeking out the temporary lakes and pools that form after localised heavy rain. [14]

Predators

Ringed teal Ringedteal.PNG
Ringed teal

Worldwide, ducks have many predators. Ducklings are particularly vulnerable, since their inability to fly makes them easy prey not only for predatory birds but also for large fish like pike, crocodilians, predatory testudines such as the Alligator snapping turtle, and other aquatic hunters, including fish-eating birds such as herons. Ducks' nests are raided by land-based predators, and brooding females may be caught unaware on the nest by mammals, such as foxes, or large birds, such as hawks or owls.

Adult ducks are fast fliers, but may be caught on the water by large aquatic predators including big fish such as the North American muskie and the European pike. In flight, ducks are safe from all but a few predators such as humans and the peregrine falcon, which regularly uses its speed and strength to catch ducks.

Relationship with humans

Domestication

Indian Runner ducks, an unusual breed of domestic ducks Tunnel of ducks.jpg
Indian Runner ducks, an unusual breed of domestic ducks

Ducks have many economic uses, being farmed for their meat, eggs, and feathers (particularly their down). They are also kept and bred by aviculturists and often displayed in zoos. Almost all the varieties of domestic ducks are descended from the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), apart from the Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata). [15] [16] The call duck is another example of a domestic duck breed. Its name comes from its original use established by hunters, as a decoy to attract wild mallards from the sky, into traps set for them on the ground. The call duck is the world's smallest domestic duck breed, as it weighs less than 1 kg (2.2 lb). [17]

Hunting

In many areas, wild ducks of various species (including ducks farmed and released into the wild) are hunted for food or sport, [18] by shooting, or formerly by being trapped using duck decoys. Because an idle floating duck or a duck squatting on land cannot react to fly or move quickly, "a sitting duck" has come to mean "an easy target". These ducks may be contaminated by pollutants such as PCBs.[ citation needed ]

Cultural references

In 2002, psychologist Richard Wiseman and colleagues at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, finished a year-long LaughLab experiment, concluding that of all animals, ducks attract the most humor and silliness; he said, "If you're going to tell a joke involving an animal, make it a duck." [19] The word "duck" may have become an inherently funny word in many languages, possibly because ducks are seen as silly in their looks or behavior. Of the many ducks in fiction, many are cartoon characters, such as Walt Disney's Donald Duck, and Warner Bros.' Daffy Duck. Howard the Duck started as a comic book character in 1973 and was made into a movie in 1986.

The 1992 Disney film The Mighty Ducks , starring Emilio Estevez chose the duck as the mascot for the fictional youth hockey team who are protagonists of the movie, based on the duck being described as a fierce fighter. This led to the duck becoming the nickname and mascot for the eventual National Hockey League professional team Anaheim Ducks. The duck is also the nickname of the University of Oregon sports teams as well as the Long Island Ducks minor league baseball team.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Northern pintail A migratory duck that breeds in northern Eurasia and North America

The pintail or northern pintail is a duck with wide geographic distribution that breeds in the northern areas of Europe, Asia and North America. It is migratory and winters south of its breeding range to the equator. Unusually for a bird with such a large range, it has no geographical subspecies if the possibly conspecific duck Eaton's pintail is considered to be a separate species.

Northern shoveler species of bird

The northern shoveler, known simply in Britain as the shoveler, is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America, wintering in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Central, and northern South America. It is a rare vagrant to Australia. In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and west of this body of water, and as far south as the Great Lakes west to Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon.

Gadwall species of bird

The gadwall is a common and widespread dabbling duck in the family Anatidae.

Mallard species of dabbling duck

The mallard is a dabbling duck that breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Eurasia, and North Africa and has been introduced to New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Falkland Islands, and South Africa. This duck belongs to the subfamily Anatinae of the waterfowl family Anatidae. The male birds (drakes) have a glossy green head and are grey on their wings and belly, while the females have mainly brown-speckled plumage. Both sexes have an area of white-bordered black or iridescent blue feathers called a speculum on their wings; males especially tend to have blue speculum feathers. The mallard is 50–65 cm (20–26 in) long, of which the body makes up around two-thirds the length. The wingspan is 81–98 cm (32–39 in) and the bill is 4.4 to 6.1 cm long. It is often slightly heavier than most other dabbling ducks, weighing 0.72–1.58 kg (1.6–3.5 lb). Mallards live in wetlands, eat water plants and small animals, and are social animals preferring to congregate in groups or flocks of varying sizes. This species is the main ancestor of most breeds of domesticated ducks.

Green-winged teal species of bird

The green-winged teal is a common and widespread duck that breeds in the northern areas of North America except on the Aleutian Islands. It was considered conspecific with the common teal for some time but the issue is still being reviewed by the American Ornithological Society; based on this the IUCN and BirdLife International do not accept it as a separate species at present. However, nearly all other authorities consider it distinct based on behavioral, morphological, and molecular evidence. The scientific name is from Latin Anas, "duck" and carolinensis, "of Carolina".

Redhead (bird) species of bird

The redhead is a medium-sized diving duck. The scientific name is derived from Greek aithuia an unidentified seabird mentioned by authors including Hesychius and Aristotle, and Latin americana, of America. The redhead is 37 cm (15 in) long with an 84 cm (33 in) wingspan. It belongs to the genus Aythya, together with 11 other described species. The redhead and the common pochard form a sister group which together is sister to the canvasback.

American black duck species of bird

The American black duck is a large dabbling duck in the family Anatidae. It was described by William Brewster in 1902. It is the heaviest species in the genus Anas, weighing 720–1,640 g (1.59–3.62 lb) on average and measuring 54–59 cm (21–23 in) in length with a 88–95 cm (35–37 in) wingspan. It somewhat resembles the female mallard in coloration, but has a darker plumage. The male and female are generally similar in appearance, but the male's bill is yellow while the female's is dull green with dark marks on the upper mandible. It is native to eastern North America. During the breeding season, it is usually found in coastal and freshwater wetlands from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic in Canada and the Great Lakes and the Adirondacks in the United States. It is a partially migratory species, mostly wintering in the east-central United States, especially in coastal areas.

Wood duck species of bird

The wood duck or Carolina duck is a species of perching duck found in North America. It is one of the most colorful North American waterfowl.

Mandarin duck perching duck

The mandarin duck is a perching duck species native to East Asia. It is medium-sized, at 41–49 cm (16–19 in) long with a 65–75 cm (26–30 in) wingspan. It is closely related to the North American wood duck, the only other member of the genus Aix. Aix is an Ancient Greek word which was used by Aristotle to refer to an unknown diving bird, and galericulata is the Latin for a wig, derived from galerum, a cap or bonnet.

Indian spot-billed duck species of bird

The Indian spot-billed duck is a large dabbling duck that is a non-migratory breeding duck throughout freshwater wetlands in the Indian subcontinent. The name is derived from the red spot at the base of the bill that is found in the mainland Indian population. When in water it can be recognized from a long distance by the white tertials that form a stripe on the side, and in flight it is distinguished by the green speculum with a broad white band at the base. The eastern spot-billed duck was formerly treated as a subspecies.

Black-headed duck species of bird

The black-headed duck is a South American duck allied to the stiff-tailed ducks in the tribe Oxyurini of the family Anatidae. It is the only member of the genus Heteronetta.

Fulvous whistling duck A species of bird in the family Anatidae, widespread in tropical wetlands

The fulvous whistling duck or fulvous tree duck is a species of whistling duck that breeds across the world's tropical regions in much of Mexico and South America, the West Indies, the Southern United States, sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent. It has plumage that is mainly reddish brown, long legs and a long grey bill, and shows a distinctive white band across its black tail in flight. Like other members of its ancient lineage, it has a whistling call which is given in flight or on the ground. Its preferred habitat consists of wetlands with plentiful vegetation, including shallow lakes and paddy fields. The nest, built from plant material and unlined, is placed among dense vegetation or in a tree hole. The typical clutch is around ten whitish eggs. The breeding adults, which pair for life, take turns to incubate, and the eggs hatch in 24–29 days. The downy grey ducklings leave the nest within a day or so of hatching, but the parents continue to protect them until they fledge around nine weeks later.

Falcated duck species of bird

The falcated duck or falcated teal is a gadwall-sized dabbling duck from Asia.

Pacific black duck species of bird

The Pacific black duck, commonly known as the PBD, is a dabbling duck found in much of Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and many islands in the southwestern Pacific, reaching to the Caroline Islands in the north and French Polynesia in the east. It is usually called the grey duck in New Zealand, where it is also known by its Maori name, pārera.

Blue duck species of bird

The blue duck or whio is a member of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae endemic to New Zealand. It is the only member of the genus Hymenolaimus. Its exact taxonomic status is still unresolved, but it appears to be most closely related to the tribe Anatini, the dabbling ducks. Its Māori name, pronounced "fee-oh" and commonly used in New Zealand English, is an onomatopoetic rendition of the males' call.

Hottentot teal species of bird

The Hottentot teal is a species of dabbling duck of the genus Spatula. It is migratory resident in eastern and southern Africa, from Sudan and Ethiopia west to Niger and Nigeria and south to South Africa and Namibia. In west Africa and Madagascar it is sedentary.

Mexican duck species of bird

The Mexican duck is a dabbling duck in the genus Anas which breeds in Mexico and the southern United States. Most of the population is resident, but some northern birds migrate south to Mexico in winter.

Domestic duck farm animal

Domestic ducks are ducks that are raised for meat, eggs and down. Many ducks are also kept for show, as pets, or for their ornamental value. Almost all varieties of domestic duck apart from the Muscovy duck are descended from the mallard.

Eastern spot-billed duck species of bird

The eastern spot-billed duck or Chinese spot-billed duck is a species of dabbling duck that breeds in East and Southeast Asia. It was formerly treated as a subspecies of the Indian spot-billed duck. The name is derived from the yellow spot on the bill.

References

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  11. Titlow, Budd (2013-09-03). Bird Brains: Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered Friends. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN   9780762797707.
  12. Amos, Jonathan (2003-09-08). "Sound science is quackers". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-11-02.
  13. "Mythbusters Episode 8". 12 December 2003.
  14. "Pacific Black Duck". www.wiresnr.org. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  15. "Anas platyrhynchos, Domestic Duck; DigiMorph Staff - The University of Texas at Austin". Digimorph.org. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
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