Ducklings: 5 Unbelievable Facts and 5 Pictures!

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Ducklings are adorable, there's no doubt about that. But, did you know that ducklings travel in groups for protection, or that they grow feathers over time?

Let's dig into these duckling facts and more fun things you probably didn't know!

#1: Baby ducks are called ducklings!

duckling siblings
Ducklings are called ducklings or chicks!

© iStock.com/therry

Ducklings of either sex are called ducklings or chicks. A group of ducklings on land is called a litter. Ducklings can't fly, but once they can, a group of people in the air is called a skein, team, or flock of ducks. On water, the group is called a paddle, raft, or duckling team.

Ducks are ducklings until they can mate, at about four to six months old. This is when the terminology changes. A fully developed male duck is called a drake, and a fully developed female duck is called a female duck.

#2: Newborn ducklings without feathers

ducklings follow mother
Ducklings are born with a layer of soft down.

© iStock.com/Anolis01

Perhaps one of the most distinctive features of ducks is their beautiful plumage. You might be surprised to know that ducklings aren't born with feathers. Instead, they're covered with a soft, downy layer called fuzz.

During the first three to five weeks of their lives, ducklings have only down. Since duck feathers are critical to regulating body temperature, baby ducks are only allowed to survive on warm, sunny days.

When they reach about six weeks of age, ducklings undergo what is called juvenile feather molting. During this stage, they shed all their down to make room for the adult feathers. The whole process takes about six weeks and produces dull feathers that shed again at about 15 weeks of age.

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#3: Ducklings are never timid

a pair of ducklings
Duck chicks have a special conditioning system that prevents them from frostbite in icy water!

© iStock.com/Wheatfield

You probably already know that ducklings have webbed flippers, but did you know that their feet are never cold? From birth, ducklings have a special circulatory system that protects them from frostbite in cold temperatures. The system sits on top of their legs, radiating heat down their feet.

Ducklings also have no blood vessels or nerve endings in their webbed feet. This means that no matter how cold the water is, they cannot feel it. This means they can swim in icy water and even walk in snow without getting too cold!

It's not hard to believe that ducklings' webbed feet help them swim. The skin between their toes helps them use their feet as paddles, propelling them through the water faster. Surprisingly, these ducklings also use their feet as tools in flight. In the air, ducks use their feet as rudders, which help with steering.

#4: Ducklings Know How Safe They Are

duckling swimming
Ducklings travel in flocks for protection.

©iStock.com/Stanislav Ostranitsa

Ducklings have many formidable predators, such as snakes, bears, and even wolves. Sure, they can fly, but not very fast swimmers. The average swimming speed of a duck is about 8 miles per hour, which is about the same as a typical human running speed. This means they have to be creative to protect themselves from threats.

One of the most common ways ducklings protect themselves is by traveling in groups. Ducks are able to detect threats more easily and quickly when traveling with a group of companions. Ducks are also very social animals and require interaction to thrive. Without companionship, ducks often become lethargic and depressed.

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Flocking isn't the only way ducklings protect themselves. They also have the amazing ability to sleep with one eye open – really! When it's time to rest, the ducks can only switch off half of their brains. That way, the other half is awake and alert to spot a predator. The duckling will only close completely when it is safe, such as in the middle of the duck's paddle.

#5: Duckling Waterproof Feathers

duckling close-up
Ducklings have a tail gland that secretes oil to waterproof their feathers!

© iStock.com/Nick Hurst

Once the ducklings have grown their feathers, it routinely grooms them with an oily substance. This particular oil is produced by the duck's forehead glands. Ducklings collect this oil and apply it to their feathers with their beaks, making them completely waterproof.

If you're wondering why animals that spend so much time in the water need waterproof feathers. There are several different reasons! First, their water-repellent outer layer helps protect an underlying layer of downy feathers, which is vital for ducklings to keep warm. Having waterproof feathers also ensures that the ducklings' bodies don't absorb too much water, which could prevent them from floating or even flying!

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featured image

baby duck siblings

© iStock.com/therry


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

what's the duckling's name

Ducklings are called ducklings. A group of ducklings is called a brood when they are on land. After four to six months, the female duck is called a female duck and the male duck is called a drake. Ducklings are considered adults when they are sexually mature.

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How much does the duckling weigh?

Most ducklings weigh only a few grams at birth. For example, a Wood Duck weighs around 12 to 17 grams at birth, while a Black Cayuga weighs around 38 to 50 grams.

What do ducklings eat?

Ducklings are omnivores and usually eat almost anything. Their diet includes all kinds of bugs, weeds, grasses, and even algae! As ducklings reach adulthood, they will even eat small fish and aquatic invertebrates.

Where does the duckling live?

Baby ducks live everywhere humans live except Antarctica.

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