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Ducks
Bufflehead
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: various

Duck is the common name for a number of species in the Anatidae family of birds. The ducks are divided between several subfamilies listed in full in the Anatidae article; they do not represent a monophyletic group 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.

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

Contents

Etymology

Female Mallard

The word duck comes from Old English *dūce, 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".

This word replaced Old English æned "duck", favored by æned presumably developing into a homophone of the outcome of Old English ende "end". Other Germanic languages still have similar words for "duck", for example, Dutch eend "duck" and German Ente "duck". The word æned was inherited from Proto-Indo-European; compare: Latin anas "duck", Lithuanian ántis "duck", Ancient Greek nēssa/nētta (νήσσα, νήττα) "duck", and Sanskrit ātí "water bird", among others.

Some people use "duck" specifically for adult females and "drake" for adult males, for the species described here; others use "hen" and "drake", respectively.

A duckling is a young duck in downy plumage[1] or baby duck.[2]; but in the food trade young adult ducks ready for roasting are sometimes labelled "duckling".

Morphology

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 like the Paradise Shelduck of New Zealand which is both strikingly sexually dimorphic and where the female's plumage is brighter than that of the male. The plumage of juvenile birds generally resembles that of the female.

Behaviour

Feeding

Pecten along the beak.

Ducks exploit a variety of food sources such as grasses, aquatic plants, fish, insects, small amphibians[3], worms, and small molluscs.

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.

Dabbling ducks feed on the surface of water or on land, or as deep as they can reach by up-ending without completely submerging.[4] 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.

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

The others have the characteristic wide flat beak designed for 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 holding and turning headfirst and swallowing a squirming frog. To avoid injury when digging into sediment it has no cere. but the nostrils come out through hard horn.

Breeding

Two ducklings.

The ducks are generally monogamous, although these bonds generally last a single year only. Larger species and the more sedentary species (like fast river specialists) tend to have pair-bonds that last numerous years. Most duck species breed once a year, choosing to do so in favourable conditions (spring/summer or wet seasons).

Communication

Despite widespread misconceptions, only the females of most dabbling ducks "quack". For example, the scaup – which are diving ducks – make a noise like "scaup" (hence their name), and even among the dabbling ducks, the males never quack. In general, ducks make a wide range of calls, ranging from whistles cooing, yodels and grunts. 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 shown 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.[5] It was also debunked in one of the earlier episodes of the popular Discovery Channel television show MythBusters.[6]

Ecology

Distribution and habitat

The ducks have a cosmopolitan distribution occurring across most of the world except for Antarctica. 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.

Ducks on ice-covered pool in Hannover, Germany

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.

Ducks have become an accepted presence in populated areas. Migration patterns have changed such that many species remain in an area during the winter months. In spring and early summer ducks sometimes influence human activity through their nesting; sometimes a duck pair nests well away from water, needing a long trek to water for the hatchlings: this sometimes causes an urgent wildlife rescue operation (e.g. by the RSPCA) if the duck nested somewhere unsuitable like in a small enclosed courtyard.

Predators

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 large fish like pike, crocodilians, 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 eagles.

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

Domesticated duck headcount in 2004

Ducks have many economic uses, being farmed for their meat, eggs, feathers, (particularly their down). They are also kept and bred by aviculturists and often displayed in zoos. All domestic ducks are descended from the wild Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, except the Muscovy Duck [7]. Many domestic breeds have become much larger than their wild ancestor, with a "hull length" (from base of neck to base of tail) of 30 cm (12 inches) or more and routinely able to swallow an adult British Common Frog Rana temporaria whole; the wild mallard's "hull length" is about 6 inches.

FAO reports that China is the top duck market in 2004 followed by Vietnam and other South East Asian countries.

In many areas, wild ducks of various species (including ducks farmed and released into the wild) are hunted for food or sport, by shooting, or formerly by decoys. Because an idle, floating duck or a duck squatted on land cannot react, fly or move quickly, "a sitting duck" has come to mean "an easy target".

Wild ducks of many species and domesticated breeds are widely consumed around the world.

Cultural references

A male and female Wood Duck

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 most the humor and silliness; he said "If you're going to tell a joke involving an animal, make it a duck." 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 like Donald Duck, who appeared in a Walt Disney film for the first time on 9 June 1934, and Daffy Duck, who appeared in Warner Brothers films. (see the New Scientist article [1] mentioning humor in the word "duck").

See also

References

  1. ^ "Duckling". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Republished by dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/duckling, Accessed 05-01-2008.
  2. ^ "Duckling". Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary (Beta Version), 2000-2006 K Dictionaries Ltd., Republished by dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/duckling, Accessed 05-01-2008.
  3. ^ Photo of a duck eating a frog
  4. ^ Ogden, Evans. "Dabbling Ducks". CWE. http://www.sfu.ca/biology/wildberg/species/dabbducks.html. Retrieved 2006-11-02.  
  5. ^ Amos, Jonathan (2003-09-08). "Sound science is quackers". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3086890.stm. Retrieved 2006-11-02.  
  6. ^ "Mythbusters Episode 8". 12 December 2003. http://mythbustersresults.com/episode8.  
  7. ^ "Mallard - Nature Notes". Ducks Unlimited Canada. http://www.ducks.ca/resource/general/naturenotes/mallard.html. Retrieved 2006-11-02.  

External links


Ducks
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: various

Duck is the common name for a number of species in the Anatidae family of birds. The ducks are divided between several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group 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.

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

Contents

Etymology

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".

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" and German Ente "duck". The word ened/ænid was inherited from Proto-Indo-European; compare: Latin anas "duck", Lithuanian ántis "duck", Ancient Greek nēssa/nētta (νήσσα, νήττα) "duck", and Sanskrit ātí "water bird", among others.

Some people use "duck" specifically for adult females and "drake" for adult males, for the species described here; others use "hen" and "drake", respectively.

A duckling is a young duck in downy plumage[1] or baby duck.[2]; but in the food trade young adult ducks ready for roasting are sometimes labelled "duckling".

Morphology

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 like the Paradise Shelduck of New Zealand which is both strikingly sexually dimorphic and where the female's plumage is brighter than that of the male. The plumage of juvenile birds generally resembles that of the female.

Behaviour

Feeding

Ducks exploit a variety of food sources such as grasses, aquatic plants, fish, insects, small amphibians[3], worms, and small molluscs.

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.

Dabbling ducks feed on the surface of water or on land, or as deep as they can reach by up-ending without completely submerging.[4] 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.

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

The others have the characteristic wide flat beak designed for 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 holding and turning headfirst and swallowing a squirming frog. To avoid injury when digging into sediment it has no cere. but the nostrils come out through hard horn.

Breeding

The ducks are generally monogamous, although these bonds generally last a single year only. Larger species and the more sedentary species (like fast river specialists) tend to have pair-bonds that last numerous years. 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.

Communication

Despite widespread misconceptions, only the females of most dabbling ducks "quack". For example, the scaup – which are diving ducks – make a noise like "scaup" (hence their name), and even among the dabbling ducks, the males never quack. In general, ducks make a wide range of calls, ranging from whistles cooing, yodels and grunts. 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 shown 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.[5] It was also debunked in one of the earlier episodes of the popular Discovery Channel television show MythBusters.[6]

Ecology

Distribution and habitat

The ducks have a cosmopolitan distribution occurring across most of the world except for Antarctica. 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. [[File:|thumb|Ducks on ice-covered pool in Hannover, Germany]] 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.[citation needed]

Ducks have become an accepted presence in populated areas. Migration patterns have changed such that many species remain in an area during the winter months. In spring and early summer ducks sometimes influence human activity through their nesting; sometimes a duck pair nests well away from water, needing a long trek to water for the hatchlings: this sometimes causes an urgent wildlife rescue operation (e.g. by the RSPCA) if the duck nested somewhere unsuitable like in a small enclosed courtyard.

Predators

[[File:|thumb|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 large fish like pike, crocodilians, 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 eagles.

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

[[File:|thumb|Domesticated duck headcount in 2004]] Ducks have many economic uses, being farmed for their meat, eggs, feathers, (particularly their down). They are also kept and bred by aviculturists and often displayed in zoos. All domestic ducks are descended from the wild Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, except the Muscovy Duck [7]. Many domestic breeds have become much larger than their wild ancestor, with a "hull length" (from base of neck to base of tail) of 30 cm (12 inches) or more and routinely able to swallow an adult British Common Frog Rana temporaria whole; the wild mallard's "hull length" is about 6 inches.

FAO reports that China is the top duck market in 2004 followed by Vietnam and other South East Asian countries.

In many areas, wild ducks of various species (including ducks farmed and released into the wild) are hunted for food or sport, by shooting, or formerly by 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".

Wild ducks of many species and domesticated breeds are widely consumed around the world.

Cultural references

File:Pair of Wood
A male and female Wood Duck

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."[8] 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 like Donald Duck, who appeared in a Walt Disney film for the first time on 9 June 1934, and Daffy Duck, who appeared in Warner Brothers films.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Duckling". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Republished by dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/duckling, Accessed 05-01-2008.
  2. ^ "Duckling". Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary (Beta Version), 2000-2006 K Dictionaries Ltd., Republished by dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/duckling, Accessed 05-01-2008.
  3. ^ Photo of a duck eating a frog
  4. ^ Ogden, Evans. "Dabbling Ducks". CWE. http://www.sfu.ca/biology/wildberg/species/dabbducks.html. Retrieved 2006-11-02. 
  5. ^ Amos, Jonathan (2003-09-08). "Sound science is quackers". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3086890.stm. Retrieved 2006-11-02. 
  6. ^ "Mythbusters Episode 8". 12 December 2003. http://mythbustersresults.com/episode8. 
  7. ^ "Mallard - Nature Notes". Ducks Unlimited Canada. http://www.ducks.ca/resource/general/naturenotes/mallard.html. Retrieved 2006-11-02. 
  8. ^ World's funniest joke revealed New Scientist, 3 October 2002

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Contents

Duck is a town in Dare County on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Get in

From the North, take I-64 in Virginia to exit 291B (US 168-Battlefield Blvd). Merge left onto Rt 168 and continue until road becomes RT. 158 (beyond the NC border). 158 will take you all the way to the Outer Banks, then turn North onto NC 12 and head up the island to Duck.

Driving from the West use US-64 and 264 through Columbia and Manteo, NC. US 264 becomes 158 once you've reached the Outer Banks beaches, take it North past Kill Devil Hills to NC 12 and head up the island to Duck.

See

Wild horses run free north of Corolla. 4wd is necessary.

Wild Horses
Wild Horses

Do

Duck is a quiet place. There is shopping in town, and some watersports on the Currituck Sound, but mostly what there is to do is enjoy the beach. Almost everything is within walking distance.

Duck, as most of OBX, is family friendly. Duck is also dog friendly. In fact, dogs (without leashes) are welcome on the beach!

Be sure to walk the beach in the evenings. Lots of families head out after dark to play with the crabs.

  • Cravings Coffee Shoppe, 1211 Duck Road. A nice non-chain coffee-and-stuff joint. Just a couple of small tables and some comfy chairs, but Howard has a good word for everyone.  edit
  • Duck Deli, 1223 Duck Road. A favorite among tourists and locals. Good basic food, not much parking. Don't miss the BBQ!  edit
  • Duck's Cottage Coffee & Book Shop, 1240 Duck Road. A nice coffee shop combined with a small independent bookstore. Not much seating, but some inside and some outside.  edit
  • Pizzazz Pizza Company, 1187 Duck Road. Just your basic pizza parlor. Delivery available.  edit
  • Sunset Grille & Raw Bar, 1264 Duck Road. Wonderful view of the sunset over Currituck Sound, a mix of inside and outside seating. A popular place, and sometimes loud. Food is secondary to view and bar scene.  edit
  • Elizabeth's Cafe & Winery, 1177 Duck Road #11, Duck, NC 27949 (In Scarborough Faire Shopping Village), 252-261-6145, [1]. 6:00PM - 8:45PM. Incredible food, with a wine list that fills an entire 3-inch binder. (36° 09' 43.00 N,75° 45' 08.59 W) edit
  • Angelo's Soundfront Eatery, 1190 Duck RD. Duck, North Carolina 27949, 1-252-261-6080. 7 Days a Week. 11:30 till 3:00 And 5pm till 9pm.  edit
  • Beach Realty & Construction / Kitty Hawk Rentals – Duck Office, 1450 Duck Road (Rt. 12), Duck, NC 27949, 800-635-1559, [2]. Outer Banks Vacation Rentals (mini-weeks, full weeks, extended stays), real estate and construction services.   edit
  • Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates, P.O. Box 1030, Mile Post 2, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949, 252-261-4444 (Toll Free) ''+ 1'' 800-552-6257 (), [3]. Outer Banks vacation rentals in Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and South Nags Head.  edit
  • Resort Realty - Duck Office, PO Box 8147, 1248 Duck Road, Duck Village, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949, 252-261-8888 (), [4]. Duck, Outer Banks vacation rentals, 2-10 bedrooms, private pools, pet-friendly, event planning. Offers Resort Club collection of top-of-the-line vacation properties.  edit
  • Seaside Realty Outer Banks Vacations 252-261-5500 (Toll Free) 866-884-0267. Vacation rentals in Duck. Bed linens & bath towels included; 1 - 17 bedrooms, private pools, hot tubs, game rooms, elevator, dog-friendly. [5].
  • Sun Realty, 252-441-7035 (toll free: +1 888-853-7757 (), [6]. Homes and condos from 1 - 14 bedrooms, private pools, hot tubs, game rooms, handicap accessibility, luxury oceanfront homes to affordable family beach cottages. Phone lines open until 9:00pm Monday - Friday, 5:30 Saturday and Sunday.  edit
  • Twiddy & Company Realtors, 1181 Duck Road, +1 866 457-1190 (toll free: +1-800-489-4339, ), [7].  edit
  • Southern Shores Realty, 5 Ocean Blvd, +1 252 261-2000 (toll free: +1-800-334-1000, ), [8]. Offers over 650 Outer Banks vacation rental homes in Corolla, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head.  edit
  • Outer Banks Blue North Carolina Beach Vacations 252-255-1220 (Toll Free) 888-623-2583. 1245 Duck Road :: Duck, NC 27949. Vacation rentals in Duck. Quality linens included; 1 - 13 bedrooms, private heated pools, hot tubs, game rooms, home theaters, fireplaces, elevator, dog and kid friendly. [9].
  • Outer Banks Property Management, [10]. Focusing exclusively on home owners. We professionally manage Vacation Homes in the Outer Banks. If you have any questions please contact us through our web site.  edit
  • Brindley Beach Vacations, 1-877-642-3224, [11]. Rental Rates are the ADVERTISED RENTAL RATE, PLUS TAX, NO ADDITIONAL FEES! You will find no additional fees other than tax, and optional fees such as travel insurance, pet fee, and heated pool fee. For additional information on the tax rates and optional fees please see the General Rental Information page of our website. Welcome to the Outer Banks in, North Carolina with Brindley Beach Vacations and Sales, your source for the best Outer Banks beach rentals! The North Carolina region offers great Outer Banks vacation rentals that offer something for everyone! Corolla and Duck vacation rentals provide the perfect family vacation on the beautiful beaches for which the Outer Banks are known. Abundant with nature, Duck and Corolla vacation rentals enable you to relax in the sun, work on your tan or embark on a deep sea fishing adventure. When you choose an Outer Banks rental, you open doors to such adventures as wild horse spotting tours, golf, tennis, crabbing, jet skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, fishing, kayaking and more! When it comes to selecting Outer Banks vacation rentals, we know that you want to depend on a company that is committed to excellence so you can concentrate on having fun. Our focus at Brindley Beach is on service and communication. You will never wait for service while in our care. It's all about you at Brindley Beach Vacations! We will deliver all the service to keep you coming back to the Outer Banks.  edit
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DUCK. (1) (From the verb "to duck," to dive, put the head under water, in reference to the bird's action, cf. Dutch duiker, Ger. Taucher, diving-bird, duiken, tauchen, to dip, dive, Dan. dukand, duck, and Ger. Ente, duck; various familiar and slang usages are based on analogy with the bird's action), the general English name for a large number of birds forming the greater part of the family Anatidae of modern ornithologists. Technically the term duck is restricted to the female, the male being called drake (cognate with the termination of Ger. Enterich), and in one species mallard (Fr. Malart). The Anatidae may be at once divided into six more or less well marked subfamilies - (1) the Cygninae or swans, (2) the Anserinae or geese - which are each very distinct, (3) the Anatinae or freshwater-ducks, (4) those commonly called Fuligulinae or sea-ducks, (5) the Erismaturinae or spiny-tailed ducks, and (6) the Merginae or mergansers.

The Anatinae are the typical group, and it is these only that are considered here. We start with the Anas boschas of Linnaeus, the common wild duck, which from every point of view is by far the most important species, as it is the most plentiful, the most widely distributed, and the best known - being indeed the origin of all the British domestic breeds. It inhabits the greater part of the northern hemisphere, reaching in winter so far as the Isthmus of Panama in the New World, and in the Old being abundant at the same season in Egypt and north-western India, while in summer it ranges throughout the Fur-Countries, Greenland, Iceland, Lapland and Siberia. Most of those which fill British markets are no doubt bred in more northern climes, but a considerable proportion of them are yet produced in the British Islands, though not in anything like the numbers that used to be supplied before the draining of the great fen-country and other marshy places. The wild duck pairs very early in the year - the period being somewhat delayed by hard weather, and the ceremonies of courtship, which require some little time. Soon after these are performed, the respective couples separate in search of suitable nesting-places, which are generally found, by those that remain with us, about the middle of March. The spot chosen is sometimes near a river or pond, but often very far removed from water, and it may be under a furze-bush, on a dry heath, at the bottom of a thick hedge-row, or even in any convenient hole in a tree. A little dry grass is generally collected, and on it the eggs, from 9 to 11 in number, are laid. So soon as incubation commences the mother begins to divest herself of the down which grows thickly beneath her breast-feathers, and adds it to the nest-furniture, so that the eggs are deeply imbedded in this heat-retaining substance - a portion of which she is always careful to pull, as a coverlet, over her treasures when she quits them for food. She is seldom absent from the nest, however, but once, or at most twice, a day, and then she dares not leave it until her mate, after several circling flights of observation, has assured her she may do so unobserved. Joining him the pair betake themselves to some quiet spot where she may bathe and otherwise refresh herself. Then they return to the nest, and after cautiously reconnoitring the neighbourhood, she loses no time in reseating herself on her eggs, while he, when she is settled, repairs again to the waters, and passes his day listlessly in the company of his brethren, who have the same duties, hopes and cares. Short and infrequent as are the absences of the duck when incubation begins, they become shorter and more infrequent towards its close, and for the last day or two of the 28 necessary to develop the young it is probable that she will not stir from the nest at all. When all the fertile eggs are hatched her next care is to get the brood safely to the water. This, when the distance is great, necessarily demands great caution, and so cunningly is it done that but few persons have encountered the mother and offspring as they make the dangerous journey.' If disturbed the young instantly hide as they best can, while the mother quacks loudly, feigns lameness, and flutters off to divert the attention of the intruder from her brood, who lie motionless at her warning notes. Once arrived at the water they are comparatively free from harm, though other perils present themselves from its inmates in the form of pike and other voracious fishes, which seize the ducklings as they disport in quest of insects on the surface or dive beneath it. Throughout the summer the duck continues her care unremittingly, until the young are full grown and feathered; but it is no part of the mallard's duty to look after his offspring, and indeed he speedily becomes incapable of helping them, for towards the end of May he begins to undergo his extraordinary additional moult, loses the power of flight, and does not regain his full plumage till autumn. About harvesttime the young are well able to shift for themselves, and then resort to the corn-fields at evening, where they fatten on the scattered grain. Towards the end of September or beginning of October both old and young unite in large flocks and betake themselves to the larger waters. If long-continued frost prevail, most of the ducks resort to the estuaries and tidal rivers, or even leave these islands almost entirely. Soon after Christmas the return-flight commences, and then begins anew the course of life already described.

For the farmyard varieties, descending from Anas boschas, see Poultry. The domestication of the duck is very ancient. Several distinct breeds have been established, of which the most esteemed from an economical point of view are those known as the Rouen and Aylesbury; but perhaps the most remarkable deviation from the normal form is the so-called penguin-duck, in which the bird assumes an upright attitude and its wings are much diminished in size. A remarkable breed also is that often named (though quite fancifully) the "Buenos-Ayres" duck, wherein the whole plumage is of a deep black, beautifully glossed or bronzed. But this saturation, so to speak, of colour only lasts in the individual for a few years, and as the birds grow older they become mottled with white, though as long as their reproductive power lasts they "breed true." The amount of variation in domestic ducks, however, is not comparable to that found among pigeons, no doubt from the absence of the competition which pigeon-fanciers have so long exercised. One of the most curious effects of domestication in the duck, however, is, that whereas the wild mallard is not only strictly monogamous, but, as Waterton believed, a most faithful husband, remaining paired for life, the civilized drake is notoriously polygamous.

Very nearly allied to the common wild duck are a considerable number of species found in various parts of the world in which there is little difference of plumage between the sexes - both being of a dusky hue - such as Anas obscura, the commonest river-duck of America, A. superciliosa of Australia, A. poecilorhyncha of India, A. melleri of Madagascar, xanthorhyncha of South Africa, and some others.

Among the other genera of Anatinae, we must content ourselves by saying that both in Europe and in North America there are the groups represented by the shoveller, garganey, gadwall, teal, pintail and widgeon - each of which, according to some systematists, is the type of a distinct genus. Then there is the group Aix, with its beautiful representatives the wood-duck (A. sponsa) in America and the mandarin-duck (A. galericulata) in Eastern Asia. Besides there are the sheldrakes (Tadorna), confined to the Old World and remarkably developed in the Australian Region; the musk-duck (Cairina) of South America, which is often domesticated and in that condition 1 When ducks breed in trees, the precise way in which the young get to the ground is still a matter of uncertainty. The mother is supposed to convey them in her bill, and most likely does so, but they are often simply allowed to fall.

will produce hybrids with the common duck; and finally the tree-ducks (Dendrocygna), which are almost limited to the tropics. (For duck-shooting, see Shooting.) (A. N.) 2 (Probably derived from the Dutch doeck, a coarse linen material, cf. Ger. Tuch, cloth), a plain fabric made originally from tow yarns. The cloth is lighter than canvas or sailcloth, and differs from these in that it is almost invariably single in both warp and weft. The term is also used to indicate the colour obtained at a certain stage in the bleaching of flax yarns; it is a colour between half-white and cream, and this fact may have something to do with the name. Most of the flax ducks (tow yarns) appear in this colour, although quantities are bleached or dyed. Some of the ducks are made from long flax, dyed black, and used for kit-bags, while the dyed tow ducks may be used for inferior purposes. The fabric, in its various qualities and colours, is used for an enormous variety of purposes, including tents, wagon and motor hoods, light sails, clothing, workmen's overalls, bicycle tubes, mail and other bags and pocketings. Russian duck is a fine white linen canvas.


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Simple English

Ducks
File:Anas platyrhynchos male
The brown bird on the left is the female; the brightly colored one on the right is the male, called a drake. This is the most common duck in the world, the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
File:Mandarin.duck.
Male Mandarin Duck

Ducks are birds in the family Anatidae. Ducks are closely related to swans and geese, which are in the same family. The main difference is that ducks have shorter necks, and are smaller.

They are not a monophyletic group; the form has evolved several times in the Anatidae. They are what is called a form taxon, defined by what it looks like.

Other swimming and diving birds, like grebes and loons, are sometimes called ducks, but they are not. A baby duck is called a duckling, and a male duck is called a drake. Most ducks are aquatic birds. They can be found in both saltwater and fresh water. Most of them are smaller than swans and geese.

Ducks are omnivorous, eating aquatic plants and tiny animals. Dabbling ducks feed on the surface of water or on land, or as deep as they can reach by up-ending without completely submerging. 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.[2]

Many ducks are migratory. This means that they spend the summer months in a different place than the winter months. Ducks show a cosmopolitan distribution, they can be found all over the world, except for Antarctica. Some duck species live on the South Georgia and Auckland Islands, which are subarctic. Many species have established themselves on remote islands, such as Kerguelen or Hawaii.

Some ducks are bred and kept by humans. They are not wild ducks. They are kept to provide food (meat and eggs), or to use their feathers for pillows and other items in the house. Especially in Asia, many people like to eat duck.

Ducks are sometimes kept as pets. They are often kept by groups of people on public ponds for their beauty and calming nature. Duck in spanish is pato.

Other websites

Children's literature

References

  1. Etymology: Ancient Greek for "flat-billed duck" [1]
  2. Ogden, Evans. "Dabbling Ducks". CWE. http://www.sfu.ca/biology/wildberg/species/dabbducks.html. Retrieved 2006-11-02. 
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