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A male Mallard
Scientific classification

Duck is the common name for a number of types of bird in the family Anatidae. Ducks are mostly aquatic birds, smaller than their relatives the swans or geese, found in both fresh and salt water. Ducks exploit a variety of food sources such as grasseses, grains and water plants, fish, insects, and the like.

The males (drakes) of northern species often have showy plumage, but this is moulted in summer to give a more female-like appearance, the "eclipse" plumage.

Ducks have many domestic uses, being farmed for their meat, eggs, and feathers and down. In particular, eiderdown is notable for being shed by wild eider ducks rather than being plucked.

The Anatidae subfamilies typically considered as ducks are listed below. Some members of the shelduck group Tadorninae are also named as ducks. See that article and Anatidae.

The duck groups are:

The Anseriformes and the Galliformes ( pheasants etc) are basal to neognathous birds, and should follow ratites and tinamous in bird classification systems. See the chart below

For further taxonomic comments, see also Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy.

Some species of duck, mainly those breeding in the temperate and arctic northern hemisphere, are migratory, but others are not. It is during times of migration that ducks are sometimes hunted.

Ducks should not be confused with several types of unrelated birds with similar forms, such as loons or divers, grebes, gallinules, and coots.

See also

Fictional, anthropomorphized ducks: