Ducks are semi-aquatic birds found in wet habitats on every continent except Antarctica. These waterfowl are very social and usually flock together in groups. Within these large groups, ducks can be quite noisy and they often draw attention to themselves.
Most ducks like mallard ducks, eider ducks and muscovy ducks can be found flying, swimming, and walking throughout their range. Because noisy ducks are a common occurrence worldwide, people have noticed them and assigned them collective nouns over many centuries. The collective nouns assigned to ducks depend entirely on where the ducks are found.
Groups of ducks that are swimming are most often referred to as a raft of ducks. Ducks can often be seen floating together on the water near one another, in a raft-like formation.
Other collective nouns used to describe swimming ducks include:
Groups of flying ducks are often called skeins, likely because the way they fly is in a long, winding line that resembles a string of yarn.
Other nouns that may be used to describe groups of flying ducks include:
When groups of ducks are walking on land, they are most commonly referred to as a flock. Both domesticated and wild ducks often gather in large, raucous groups while waddling around searching for food.
Other collective nouns sometimes used to describe walking ducks include:
Additional general collective nouns for ducks include:
What is a Group of Baby Ducks Called?
A group of baby ducks is usually referred to as a brood. This is because the duck parents brood their young in the nest.
Additional collective nouns sometimes used to describe baby ducks include:
A breeding pair of ducks will often lay an average of twelve eggs (range of eight to fifteen eggs) in their nest over the course of a few days. The number of eggs laid by the female duck depends on the age of the female. Females typically lay the most eggs between the ages of 3 and 5.
Ducks hatch out after around 26 to 28 days of incubation, depending on the species. Once ducklings hatch, they typically spend around two months in the nest before fledging. Once they can feed themselves independently, ducklings will disperse.
Ducklings hatch out with their eyes open and completely feathered. Because of this, right after hatching, ducklings can leave their nest. They imprint on their mother and follow them around so she can provide food and protection from predators.
Unfortunately, ducklings are easy prey for a large number of predators including cats, foxes, hawks, and many species of fish like Largemouth Bass and Northern Pike. They stick close to the mother duck for protection and warmth. In addition, the mother duck also teaches her brood which foods they should eat.
What is a Pair of Ducks Called?
A pair of ducks is typically called a support or a brace. Pairs of ducks are usually only seen during the breeding season. Outside of the breeding season, ducks normally move around in groups.
Once ducks return to their summer homes from their winter migration, they leave the larger group and pair off into breeding pairs. Breeding males often become aggressive towards other males who encroach on their selected female.
Because of male duck aggression, during the months that duck parents incubate and raise their young, they do not gather in large groups. Female ducks build their nests using a mixture of leaves, sticks, and down feathers from their own body to insulate the nest.
Do Ducks Flock Together in Groups?
Ducks flock together in groups, often large and noisy groups, for a variety of reasons. One reason for flocking is that when ducks are together in a large group, they are not an easy target for predators such as hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, and raccoons.
Another reason for ducks to flock is that it increases each individual’s chances of survival. With more individuals in a group, there is a higher chance that a predator will be observed before it has a chance to capture an individual, thereby allowing all individuals an opportunity to escape predation.
In addition, when ducks flock together, they are more likely to successfully find a mate during the breeding season. Courting can happen during the spring migration home and breeding pairs can begin the process of raising their young immediately after returning.
One other reason for flocking together, particularly on a long migration, is because their flying formation allows the birds to conserve energy during that long flight. Younger, inexperienced birds can also learn how to migrate efficiently by watching the older birds.
Do Ducks Migrate Together?
Ducks migrate every year from colder regions to warmer regions. In the northern hemisphere, duck migrations can be very long with ducks traversing several hundred miles, on average. Duck migrations are triggered as air temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall.
Many ducks forage for their food in fields, rivers, ponds, lakes, and wetlands. As the temperatures get colder, frost eventually hits. Once the first frost occurs, many plants start to die and ducks do not have as much success foraging for food.
Ducks typically eat a variety of grasses, aquatic vegetation, crustaceans, worms, fish eggs, and algae. This provides a balanced diet for the ducks. After the first frost, aquatic vegetation and grasses are typically burned back by the cold. This signals to ducks that it is time to migrate.
Most often, ducks prefer to forage for food within open areas with high visibility. Places like a pond, lake, or freshly-harvested field provide a wide open area where the birds can see potential predators coming. As ducks migrate to warmer places, these are the most common types of stop-over sites on their route.