Ducks – Dabblers, Divers and Perchers
Ducks are waterbirds that are related to geese and swans. There are about 100 species of duck. They are found almost all over the world. Many types fly south in winter.
Ducks are champion swimmers and are at home almost anywhere near water. There are three kinds of ducks: Dabbling ducks put their heads underwater to eat plants that grow there. They build their nests in hollows near the water. Dabbling ducks can fly very fast. Diving ducks dive deep down into the water to find things to eat. They mostly eat fish. They are very strong swimmers. Perching ducks make nests in trees and hold on to the branches with their long-clawed toes.
On the ground they waddle from side to side, moving slowly in a funny, jerky way.
Ducks make their feathers waterproof by rubbing oil on them. They get the oil from special glands on their chests and rub it on their feathers with their bills.
The Laysan duck is a relative of the mallard duck. It is 41 centimeters long. Its plumage ranges in color from light to dark brown. A white patch surrounds the duck’s eyes and extends to its ear openings. The male has a green bill, while the female has a brown one. Both sexes have a purplish–green patch surrounded by white and black feathers on their secondary wing. It is a nocturnal bird and feeds in lagoons on insect larvae and small lobsters, crabs, and shrimp. The female builds a nest on the ground and lays at least 3 pale green eggs.
Laysan ducks are found only on Laysan Island, which is a very small island of the Hawaiian Islands, located about 1,200 kilometers northwest of Niihau Island. Their population declined for two reasons: human hunting for food and sport, habitat destruction.
In the twentieth century, rabbits were brought to Laysan Island. They quickly consumed most of the vegetation on the island, destroying the ducks’ nesting grounds. By the time the rabbits were eliminated from the island in the 1920s, the ducks had become almost extinct. By the late 1950s, population had grown to almost 600.
People keep ducks for their meat, eggs, and feathers. Some hunters shoot ducks for sport.
– In 1992, containers with almost thirty thousand toy plastic ducks were washed from a merchant ship. For many years, then they are found all over the world, which, incidentally, really helped oceanographers to explore the ocean currents.
– Ducks have three eyelids.
– The greatest height at which the appearance of ducks was recorded was almost nine kilometers. Then duck faced with an American airplane.
– The highest documented speed of flight of wild ducks was about 170 kilometers per hour.
– There are no nerves or blood vessels on the duck legs, so they can safely walk on snow and ice, without feeling cold.