At Flamingo Land we get lots of requests from visitors wanting to adopt some of our animals. Our most popular ones are tigers, penguins and giraffes. An unusual request came in this week, though, as somebody wanted to adopt a duck. We have multiple duck species such as white faced whistling ducks, fulvous tree ducks and crested ducks (also known as pom pom ducks). Pom pom ducks have a genetic defect which causes them to have a deformed skull, resulting in a fluffy growth of feathers on the top of their head.
Ducks can be found all over the world, except in Antarctica. Some species are migratory so will only spend certain periods of time in a particular country. They can be found in both fresh water and sea water. Different duck species will vary slightly in morphology; however they generally have an elongated body and long neck. Domestic ducks are very common and widespread, but some species of duck are endangered. Some of their most destructive threats to their populations are droughts, flooding, grassland destruction and an increase in mammal predators.
Due to birds feeding in the water, their bill or beak is adapted to help them filter feed by possessing serrated lamellae. Some ducks also have a comb-like structure on the edge of their beak to strain the food away from the water. They would eat a mixture of food including grass, plants, insects, fish, worms, slugs and snails.
Ducks have strong legs covered in scales and the rest of their body is covered in feathers. These feathers vary in colour and males can often look completely different to the females. Ducks’ wings are short and strong and some may lose the ability to fly when moulting. Ducks usually just have one breeding partner per year and will lay just one clutch of eggs around spring time. The eggs are usually laid in a nest and then once they have hatched, the ducklings will be led into the water as a group. If any of the ducklings are late hatching or are born with defects then they will most likely get left behind.
Ducklings are particularly vulnerable to predators such as foxes and birds of prey. Once the ducks have grown larger and are able to fly they are able to escape from predators a lot easier. The group would communicate with each other using a series of noises. Different species of duck will sound different and not all ducks make a quack!