We all know the sound a duck makes.
After all, animal sounds are parts of the earliest songs and games we play with children.
But have you ever stopped to wonder why ducks quack in the first place?
As you might expect, ducks quack as a means of communication. The loudest and most aggressive quacks usually warn others of danger nearby. But they’ll also quack to get attention and share things like happiness, hunger, or finding food. Ducks may even quack when they recognize you!
Keep reading to learn more about duck communication, reducing the amount they quack at night, and why only female ducks quack.
Reasons Ducks Quack
Ducks quack for a multitude of reasons, with the main one being communication.
Quacking is their version of talking; they use it to convey important information, teach their young ducklings, and express emotions.
Humans talk, bees dance, and ducks quack.
Each species developed its way of communicating within its group.
Ducks just happened to learn how to quack.
While they have some body language, like humans, quacking is their main way of relaying information.
Swimming in a large group, ducks will use quacks to tell the others where they are.
This helps the whole group stay together to prevent any of them from getting lost.
Quacking is also used to warn others about threats.
If there is a predator nearby, expect a flurry of quacking.
It also serves to intimidate predators.
Mother ducks especially use this to warn their baby ducks.
Ducks will also quack to let others know how they are feeling.
For example, lonely ducks will quack to be reunited with their family.
Other monogamous bird species exhibit similar behavior, likely looking for their mate or babies.
On a less sad note, ducks will also quack to express happiness.
Mothers and Ducklings
Female ducks will quack before and after laying eggs.
This will likely let the others know there are eggs around to protect and incubate.
This may also be because they are happy and excited about what they’ve accomplished.
The most common time for egg laying is spring, the best time for the eggs to hatch.
Once hatched, the mothers will quack to their ducklings to locate and teach them as they grow up.
Quacking at night is usually for the same reasons they quack during the day.
For example, they might warn others about predators stalking them for food.
While ducks normally eat during the day, they sometimes find food at night and quack to let the others know where it is.
As their owner, though, you don’t appreciate their nighttime talking.
Luckily, there are ways to reduce their noisiness when you are sleeping.
First, keep them inside at night.
This limits the chances of being separated from the group or running into predators.
Those are two main reasons ducks will quack at night, greatly reducing how much noise they’ll make.
Second, play music or white noise to drown out their quacking.
Play the music either in their pen or in your room.
Third, some birds will be louder and noisier than others.
Identify and cull the culprits if nothing seems to be working.
There are also quieter duck breeds to switch to if yours are too noisy.
Do All Ducks Quack?
Across the world, there are numerous duck breeds.
Just like there is variation in colors and sizes, there is also variation in noises.
Not all of them quack.
The original quack sound people think of is specific to female Mallard ducks.
Only female ducks of any breed are capable of quacking.
For how important quacking is for communication, it is surprising only female ducks are capable of making the noise.
To make a genuine quacking sound, a bird needs a specific voice box layout.
A specialized vocal cord called an “other” vibrates to create the quacking noise when air enters the chamber.
Male ducks do not have another, and their larynx is positioned differently than females.
The lower position reduces the amount of vibration. Instead, drakes make raspy sounds different from actual quacking.
Ducklings are the only young bird able to quack, even among other breeds of quacking waterfowl.
They will inflate air into their lungs and force air through their voice box to produce vibrations.
This causes the quacking sound.
Luckily for quack-less males, other duck noises are used to communicate with each other.
This includes barking, chattering, growling, and groaning.
Like quacking, these sounds signify danger, find each other, and show emotions.
What Are the Quietest Types of Ducks?
There are some rather silent duck species to add to your farm if you want ducks without the noise.
The quietest breed is Muscovy ducks.
These silent birds are easily recognizable by the red growth on the sides of their face.
As one of the oldest domesticated breeds, their quiet nature may be from selective breeding over the years.
They only make noise when startled, so as long as they are kept safe, they will be a quiet addition to your duck farm.
The colorful Cayuga is only noisy when scared or hungry.
They’re also friendly toward both humans and other ducks.
These cute birds are only vocal during mating season.
They have a tuft of fuzzy feathers on top of their skill, giving the appearance of a wig.
Because of their unique looks and silence, they’re a popular breed with more than 2,000 years of history.
Further Reading: Crested ducks and their afros: What you need to know
Swedish Blue Duck
Despite the name, this breed hails from the Poland-German region.
It used to be part of Sweden.
They are a pretty and quiet addition to any farm with different shades of blue feathers.
They’re also on the heavier side for duck breeds, making them good for meat production.
With a 9-year life expectancy, friendly disposition, and quiet nature, the magpie duck also is a great breed to own.
Females are prolific egg layers, so you’ll get more than 200 yearly from a single one.
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