Waterfowl Fun Facts

By author of The Duck Blog

Hungry for Duck and Goose Trivia? We're Here to Help

How old are some of those Canada geese? You might be surprised. Photo © Bill Konway

Although duck and goose hunters closely study and observe their favorite birds, we often know relatively little about the intricate details of their physiology and life history.

In that spirit, let’s review some fun facts about a few of our favorite fowl.

The Old Honker's Home?

Everyone knows honkers can be long-lived, but consider this: Ducks Unlimited said the current waterfowl longevity record is held by a giant Canada goose that was 30 years, 4 months old.

Redheads and … Ringnecks?

A post on the Forbes Biological Station’s Facebook page discussed parasitism, a practice in which a female duck lays its eggs in the nest of a host female, leaving the resulting ducklings to be raised by the host hen. Redheads are famous for this behavior. However, the post also included a picture of a gadwall nest that had been parasitized by a ring-necked pheasant. Someone's confused.

Common Goldeneye ... or Gray Eye ... or Blue

Apparently, this duck doesn’t always live up to its name. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, at hatching, a goldeneye's eyes are grayish-brown. They turn purplish-blue, then blue and then greenish-blue as the bird ages. When the duck is 5 months old, its eyes become a clear, pale greenish-yellow. They eventually turn golden yellow.

Burping Ruddies

No one ever accused ruddy ducks of having manners. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology said male ruddy ducks perform unusual courtship displays, during which they stick their tails up while striking their bills against their inflated necks, creating bubbles in the water as they force air from their feathers. The ritual is punctuated at the end with a belch-like call.

Cosmopolitan Common Mergansers

According to Audubon.com, the British call common mergies the "goosander." Futher, the site said, in some parts of Europe, artificial nesting sites have been provided, and the species has become a common nesting bird along city waterfronts. This has not yet happened in North America.

That’s the best part. Notice how it said yet.

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