Duck Love

Duck Love

By its very nature, the phrase ‘duck love’ can have multiple meanings. So that we are all going in the right direction, this blog will refer to ducks ‘loving’ each other.

Ducks as a family are highly successful. That is they can be found on every continent and major body of water. (Only a few animal, and not just bird, families can claim this distinction.) Where ever there is a significant amount of water, there likely is a resident or visiting duck population.

There are approximately 131 species of ducks with the mallard (Anas platyrynchos) being the most commonly recognized wild and domestic species. The Chinese are first credited with domesticating the mallard during the Zhou Dynasty (514-495 BC) with the Peking duck being one of the first recognized domestic breeds. Of course anyone who has raised mallard ducklings can see how easy these birds tame.

There are several factors that determine the success of a species on earth. After all, we are currently witnessing species extinction at an ever increasing rate. One characteristic is the ability to adapt to differing environments, temperatures, weather patterns, etc. Ducks= check. Another is to be more of a food generalist (will eat a larger variety of foods) rather than specialist (restricted to a specific diet) making them more adaptable. Ducks= check. Resistance to diseases comes with a wide exposure of infectious agents usually through large scale or even world travel (as opposed to species isolated to island and remote locations). Ducks= check. Predator evasion also comes from large scale or world travel and the inherent and learned ability to recognize danger, flock or group protection and the capacity to escape danger. Ducks= check. And of course, a robust reproductive drive. Ducks = CHECK!

Pet duck owners are well aware of the impressive reproductive capacity of their birds- which means lots of eggs and ‘eager’ males. Also, many people have witnessed duck ‘love’ in action at their favorite pond and feeding grounds.

But have you seen duck ‘love’ with species other than the mallard and Muscovy? Just to make my point that I feel these birds will continue to populate the earth, I have included some interesting mixes showing that duck ‘love’ has few limits:

duck love 9-4-11

My conclusion… ducks will continue to spread their love and be among Earth’s more common residents.

Dr Scott Echols

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