Florida ducks are just ducky
Monday, February 01, 2010
Media contact: Jessica Basham
Ducks may not be waddling around in your backyard,
but you can usually find many swimming and quacking in local
What makes a duck so likeable? Maybe it's
their waddle or quack. Whatever makes them so likable, people
young and old enjoy watching them.
Ducks are a type of bird called waterfowl.
That's because they live on lakes, marshes, rivers, streams and
other watery areas. They are closely related to geese and
swans. There are many kinds of ducks in Florida. A
unique species found in the Florida peninsula is the mottled duck,
often called the Florida duck. It spends its entire life in
Florida. Male and female mottled ducks are very similar in
color. They are brown all over, but their head is a lighter
color than their body. They also have an orange bill and
Ducks eat by dabbling or diving. Mottled
ducks and other dabbling ducks use their bills to skim the surface
of the water or just below it looking for food. When you see
a duck with its tail feathers sticking out of the water, it is
trying to reach something tasty in deeper water, like insects or
Other ducks dive for their food. Many of
these divers are sea ducks and live at the ocean. Diving
ducks like to eat plants, small fish, insects, snails, clams and
Webbed feet help ducks swim, but on land their wide
feet and position of their legs make them waddle from side to
Did you know ducks have waterproof feathers? A
gland produces oil, which they spread by preening themselves with
their bill. When you see them turning their neck around to
"scratch," they may actually be spreading the oils.
Newborn ducks - ducklings - look like yellow and
black balls of fuzz. They learn to fly when they are only 8
weeks old! Dabblers can shoot straight up off the water into
the sky, but divers must run on top of the water's surface to gain
enough speed to take flight - just like an airplane.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission discourages people from feeding ducks because feeding
can lead to overcrowding, disease and nuisance problems in urban
Activity: Ask your mom or dad to
take you to a local pond and identify the types of ducks you
see. That's a good way to take part in the Get Outdoors
Florida! movement - www.GetOutdoorsFlorida.com. See if you
can find a Florida mottled duck, and be sure to mark it in your
Wings Over Florida checklist available at MyFWC.com/Viewing.
The Ducks Unlimited Greenwings program also
provides fun activities and information about ducks. Consider
joining at www.greenwing.org.