Duck-Related Terms and Definitions (Duck Glossary)

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Welcome to the Duck Glossary, your comprehensive guide to duck care and avian biology terminology. Within these pages, you’ll find concise definitions of key terms related to duck breeds, anatomy, behavior, and husbandry. From the classification of Anatidae to the nuances of duckling development, this glossary serves as a valuable resource for both novice and experienced duck enthusiasts.

As an avian enthusiast, I’m delighted to provide you with a reliable reference to deepen your understanding of these fascinating waterfowl. Whether you’re seeking information on duck diseases, nutrition, or habitat requirements, this glossary will equip you with the knowledge necessary for optimal duck health and welfare. Welcome to the world of duck care – let’s dive in!

A

Abacot Ranger (Streicher): A domestic duck breed known for its distinctive coloration and foraging abilities.

African duck: A term used to describe various indigenous duck breeds from Africa, known for their adaptability to local climates and conditions.

Alabio duck: A domestic duck breed originating from Indonesia, known for its small size and dark plumage.

Albumen: Also known as the egg white, albumen is the clear, viscous substance that surrounds the yolk in a duck egg.

Allier duck: A breed of duck native to the Allier region of France, valued for its meat quality and flavorful taste.

American Pekin: A domestic duck breed developed in the United States, prized for its large size, white plumage, and meat production.

Ancona duck: A domestic duck breed known for its mottled black and white plumage and excellent egg-laying abilities.

Anatidae: The biological family to which ducks belong, encompassing over 150 species of waterfowl, including ducks, geese, and swans.

Antigua and Barbuda duck: A breed of duck native to the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, known for its adaptation to tropical climates.

Appleyard: A domestic duck breed developed in England, prized for its attractive appearance and dual-purpose nature.

Aspergillosis: A fungal infection caused by Aspergillus spores, affecting the respiratory system of ducks, particularly young or immunocompromised individuals.

Australian Call: A domestic duck breed originating from Australia, known for its distinct vocalizations and vibrant plumage.

Australian Spotted: A domestic duck breed known for its spotted plumage pattern and adaptability to various climates.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu): A highly contagious viral infection affecting birds, including ducks, characterized by respiratory and digestive symptoms, often leading to high mortality rates.

Aylesbury duck: A domestic duck breed originating from Aylesbury, England, prized for its white plumage and tender meat.

B

Bac Kinh duck: A breed of duck native to Bac Kinh province in Vietnam, known for its adaptability and resilience.

Bali duck: A breed of domestic duck from Bali, Indonesia, valued for its meat and eggs.

Bantam duck: A miniature duck breed, smaller in size compared to standard duck breeds.

Bashkir duck: A breed of duck native to the Bashkortostan region of Russia, known for its hardiness and cold tolerance.

Bau duck (Ta Duck): A breed of duck native to Bau province in Vietnam, known for its unique appearance and temperament.

Bean (Nail): The small, round bump on the end of a duck’s bill, often called the nail. It may vary in size and shape among different species and serves various functions, including tactile sensation and fine manipulation of food items.

Bill: The part of the duck that forms the mouth and nose, comprising the upper and lower mandibles. It is used for grasping, manipulating food, and sometimes filtering water.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus): While not a duck, the Black Swan is closely related and often found in association with ducks. It is native to Australia and characterized by its striking black plumage and red bill.

Blekinge duck: A breed of duck originating from Blekinge province in Sweden, known for its dual-purpose nature and hardiness.

Blood Feather: During the growth stage of a feather, a blood feather is characterized by a vein within the shaft that carries nutrients to support feather development.

Blood Ring: When candling an egg, a blood ring is a circular remnant of blood vessels visible within the egg, indicating that the embryo has ceased development at an early stage.

Botulism: A bacterial toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum, leading to paralysis and death in ducks, often contracted from contaminated water sources.

Bourbourg duck: A breed of duck native to Bourbourg in France, valued for its meat quality and adaptability.

Brood: A group of ducklings hatched from the same clutch of eggs and cared for by the same mother duck.

Brooder: A heated enclosure used to raise ducklings or chicks, providing warmth and protection during the early stages of life.

Broody: Refers to a female bird, especially a duck, that exhibits protective behavior over her nest of eggs and prepares to incubate them by sitting on or near them.

Bumblefoot: Bumblefoot is a condition in ducks characterized by a swollen, inflamed area on the underside of the foot, usually caused by bacterial infection resulting from small cuts or injuries.

C

Call duck: A miniature domestic duck breed known for its small size and distinctive vocalizations.

Candling: The process of illuminating an egg with a bright light to examine its contents, typically to determine the presence of a viable embryo or detect any abnormalities in the shell.

Cappillaria: Cappillaria is a type of nematode parasite that can infect the esophagus, crop, or small intestine of ducks, often transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated earthworms or water.

Caruncle: Fleshy, often brightly colored growths on a duck’s head, particularly prominent in breeds like the Muscovy duck.

Cayuga duck: A domestic duck breed originating from Cayuga County, New York, known for its iridescent greenish-black plumage.

Challans duck: A breed of duck originating from Challans, France, valued for its flavorful meat and tender texture.

Chara Chamble duck: A breed of duck known for its origin in Chara Chamble, France, and its utility for both meat and eggs.

Clears: Incubated eggs that show no signs of embryo development when candled, indicating that they are infertile or that the embryo has ceased development.

Cloaca: The common opening in birds for the digestive, urinary, and reproductive tracts, where waste is expelled and eggs are laid.

Coccidia: Protozoan parasites that infect the intestinal tract of ducks, causing coccidiosis. This disease presents as diarrhea (sometimes bloody), dehydration, weight loss, and lethargy. Young ducks are especially vulnerable, particularly when exposed to contaminated water or feces.

Coccidiosis: A parasitic infection caused by single-celled organisms known as coccidia, which can affect the intestinal tract of poultry, though it is less common in waterfowl.

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula): A medium-sized diving duck species found in North America and Europe, known for its striking golden-yellow eye and black-and-white plumage.

Common Pochard (Aythya ferina): A diving duck species found in Europe and Asia, known for its striking red head and black breast.

Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna): While technically not a duck, the Common Shelduck is closely related and often found in association with ducks. It is characterized by its distinctive black and white plumage and bright red bill.

Crest: A tuft of feathers on the head of certain duck breeds, such as the Crested Duck.

Crested duck: A domestic duck breed characterized by a distinctive crest of feathers on its head, which can vary in shape and size.

Crop: An expandable pouch in a duck’s digestive system located at the base of the throat, where food is temporarily stored and softened before further digestion.

Crown: The top of a bird’s head, often distinguished by different colors or markings.

Coverts: The small feathers covering the bases of the larger flight feathers on a bird’s wings and tail.

D

Dabbling ducks: Ducks that feed primarily on the surface of the water by tipping forward, but do not dive completely underwater.

Danish duck: A breed of duck native to Denmark, known for its adaptability and suitability for both meat and egg production.

Dendermond duck: A breed of duck native to Dendermond, Belgium, valued for its meat quality and rapid growth.

Deshi Black: A breed of duck native to Bangladesh, known for its black plumage and suitability for meat production.

Deshi White: A breed of duck native to Bangladesh, known for its white plumage and egg-laying abilities.

Dewlap: A flap of skin covered in feathers that hangs from the throat or neck of some duck breeds, such as geese, adding to their distinctive appearance.

Diving ducks: Ducks that dive underwater to feed, using their feet to propel themselves.

Drake: The term used to describe an adult male duck, whether wild or domesticated.

Down: Soft, fluffy feathers found underneath the outer feathers of ducks, providing insulation and buoyancy.

Dry-Bulb Temperature: The ambient air temperature measured by a standard thermometer, typically used to monitor environmental conditions during egg incubation.

Duckling: A young duck, typically under three months old.

Duclair duck: A breed of duck originating from Duclair, France, valued for its flavorful meat and fine texture.

Duck Viral Enteritis (DVE): Also known as duck plague, DVE is a contagious viral disease affecting ducks, causing hemorrhagic lesions in the digestive and nervous systems, often resulting in high mortality rates.

Duck Virus Hepatitis (DVH): A viral infection affecting the liver of ducks, leading to hemorrhagic lesions and sudden death, particularly in young ducklings.

E

East Indie: A domestic duck breed known for its unique appearance, including black plumage and a distinctive tuft of feathers on the head.

Egg Bound: When a hen is unable to expel an egg through the oviduct, it experiences difficulty laying eggs.

Egg Tooth: A small, pointed structure on the tip of a hatchling’s beak used to break through the shell during hatching.

Eiderdown: Down feathers harvested from Eider ducks, prized for their warmth and used in luxury bedding.

Elizabeth duck: A breed of duck originating from Elizabeth, New Jersey, known for its adaptability and hardiness.

Embryo: An organism in the early stages of development within an egg, prior to hatching.

Erysipelas: A bacterial infection caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, resulting in acute septicemia, skin lesions, and lameness in ducks.

Estaires duck: A breed of duck originating from Estaires, France, prized for its meat quality and tender texture.

F

Faroese duck: A breed of duck native to the Faroe Islands, known for its adaptation to harsh maritime climates.

Feathers: The covering of a duck’s body, consisting of contour feathers for insulation and flight feathers for propulsion.

Follicular Cyst: A condition where a feather follicle becomes misaligned, causing the feather to grow inward, leading to cyst formation within the bird’s body.

Forest duck: A term used to describe various indigenous duck breeds from forested regions, known for their adaptability to wooded habitats.

Fowl Cholera: A bacterial infection caused by Pasteurella multocida, leading to acute septicemia and respiratory symptoms in ducks, often resulting in high mortality rates.

G

Gadwall (Anas strepera): A dabbling duck species with a gray-brown body, black rear end, and white wing patches, commonly found in freshwater habitats.


Gapeworms (Syngamidae)
: A type of roundworm that specifically targets the respiratory system of ducks. Infestations cause respiratory distress, coughing, and gaping. If left untreated, severe cases can lead to suffocation.

Garganey (Anas querquedula): A small dabbling duck species with striking breeding plumage, characterized by its chestnut-colored head and distinctive white stripe above the eye.

German Pekin: A domestic duck breed similar to the American Pekin, developed in Germany for meat production.

Germanata Veneta: A breed of duck native to the Veneto region of Italy, valued for its meat quality and adaptability.

Giardia: A protozoan parasite that infects the intestines of ducks, causing a disease called giardiasis. This disease results in diarrhea, weight loss, and poor overall health. Ducks can contract Giardia by consuming water or food contaminated with Giardia cysts.

Gimbsheimer duck: A breed of duck originating from Gimbsheim, Germany, known for its excellent foraging abilities and meat quality.

Gizzard: A muscular organ in the digestive system of ducks, located between the crop and the intestines. The gizzard grinds food into smaller particles with the help of swallowed stones or grit.

Golden Cascade: A domestic duck breed known for its striking golden plumage and calm temperament.

Gressingham duck: A breed of duck originating from Gressingham, England, known for its flavorful meat and tender texture.

Grimao Ermaôs: A breed of duck native to Greece, known for its adaptation to Mediterranean climates and egg-laying abilities.

Grit: Small, hard particles ingested by ducks to aid in the digestion of food in their gizzards.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser): While technically not a duck, the Greylag Goose is closely related and often found in association with ducks. It is one of the largest and most common species of geese, with a gray-brown body and orange bill.

H

Haemoproteus: A genus of bloodborne protozoan parasites transmitted by biting midges. These parasites primarily affect ducks, causing symptoms such as anemia, weakness, and reduced appetite.

Hatch of Fertile Eggs, Hatchability: The percentage of fertile eggs that successfully hatch, indicating the fertility rate of the eggs.

Hatch, Percent Hatch, Hatch Total: The percentage of all eggs set in an incubator that successfully hatch, regardless of fertility status.

Hatcher: An incubator specifically designed to maintain optimal conditions for embryos during the final stages of incubation, leading up to hatching.

Haut-Volant duck: A breed of duck known for its origin in Haut-Volant, France, and its suitability for both meat and eggs.

Havanna duck: A breed of duck originating from Havanna, Cuba, valued for its meat quality and adaptability.

Hen: A female duck, particularly one that has reached maturity and is capable of laying eggs.

Herve duck: A breed of duck originating from Herve, Belgium, known for its flavorful meat and rapid growth.

Hook Bill: A domestic duck breed characterized by its distinctive hooked bill and elegant appearance.

Hungarian duck: A breed of duck native to Hungary, known for its adaptability and suitability for both meat and eggs.

Huttegem duck: A breed of duck originating from Huttegem, Belgium, valued for its meat quality and rapid growth.

I

Inbreeding: The mating of closely related birds, which can lead to a decline in reproductive fitness and genetic diversity within a population.

Incubation: The process of maintaining controlled environmental conditions, including temperature and humidity, to facilitate embryo development and hatching of eggs.

Incubator or Setter: A device used to create and maintain optimal conditions for incubating eggs artificially.

Indian Runner duck: A domestic duck breed known for its upright posture and distinctive running gait, bred for egg production.

Idegem duck: A breed of duck originating from Idegem, Belgium, prized for its meat quality and rapid growth.

J

Japanice Criollo: A breed of duck native to Japan, known for its adaptation to local climates and traditional use in Japanese cuisine.

Jending: A breed of duck originating from Jending, Indonesia, valued for its meat quality and adaptability.

K

Kaiya Duck: A breed of duck native to Kaiya, Japan, known for its adaptation to cold climates and egg-laying abilities.

Keel: The prominent ridge or projection along the breastbone of a duck, providing attachment for flight muscles and aiding in flight efficiency.

Khaki Campbell: A domestic duck breed known for its excellent egg-laying abilities and adaptable nature.

L

Laplaigne: A breed of duck originating from Laplaigne, Belgium, known for its adaptability and suitability for both meat and eggs.

Legs: The lower limbs of a duck, adapted for walking, swimming, and balancing on various surfaces.

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis): A small diving duck species found in North America, known for its dark plumage, bright yellow eyes, and distinctive blue bill.

M

Magpie duck: A domestic duck breed known for its striking black and white plumage pattern and calm demeanor.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos): One of the most common and widely distributed duck species, known for its distinctive iridescent green head and bright orange bill. The Mallard is also the ancestor of many domestic duck breeds.

Malposition: Abnormal positioning of a hatching embryo within the egg, such as the head being located in a different orientation than under the right wing.

Mantle: The area of a bird’s back between the shoulders, often covered by the folded wings when at rest.

Marek’s Disease: A viral infection caused by Marek’s disease virus (MDV) affects the nervous system and causes tumors in ducks and other poultry.

Merchtem duck: A breed of duck originating from Merchtem, Belgium, valued for its flavorful meat and rapid growth.

Molt: The natural shedding and replacement of feathers in ducks, occurring periodically throughout their life cycle.

Mulard: A hybrid duck resulting from the crossbreeding of Muscovy ducks and Pekin ducks, valued for its meat quality and rapid growth.

Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata): A domestic duck breed known for its unique appearance, including distinctive caruncles on the face and red wattles around the bill.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor): Another species closely related to ducks, the Mute Swan is known for its elegant white plumage and orange bill. It is native to Europe and Asia.

N

Naked Neck duck: A breed of duck characterized by its lack of feathers on the neck, bred for meat production in hot climates.

Nape: The back of a bird’s neck, located just below the head.

Nares: Nostril-like openings on the bill of a duck, used for breathing while swimming and for detecting scents in the environment.

Newcastle Disease: A highly contagious viral infection affecting ducks and other birds, characterized by respiratory, nervous, and digestive symptoms, often leading to high mortality rates.

Niacin: A B-complex vitamin essential for the health of ducks and geese, required in larger quantities compared to chickens, deficiency of which can lead to growth abnormalities and leg deformities.

O

Orpington Duck: A domestic duck breed developed in England, known for its large size, gentle temperament, and dual-purpose nature.

Overberg Duck: A breed of duck originating from the Overberg region of South Africa, known for its adaptation to local climates and conditions.

Oviduct: The female reproductive tract of a duck, responsible for the formation, maturation, and transport of eggs from the ovary to the cloaca for egg-laying.

P

Paratyphoid: A bacterial infection caused by Salmonella enterica, leading to septicemia, diarrhea, and sudden death in ducks, particularly young or stressed individuals.

Pekin Duck (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus): A domestic duck breed known for its large size, white plumage, and calm demeanor, often raised for meat production.

Pinfeathers: Newly emerging feathers following a molt, which are still encased in a protective sheath and difficult to pluck.

Pinion: The surgical removal of the tip of a duck’s wing at the outer joint, performed to prevent flight.

Pip: The process of a chick breaking through the shell during hatching, or the hole made by the chick in the shell.

Plumage: The pattern and arrangement of feathers on a duck’s body, which can vary greatly among different species and breeds.

Pomeranian duck: A breed of duck originating from Pomerania, Germany, known for its meat quality and adaptability.

Pond duck: A term used to describe various indigenous duck breeds from pond habitats, known for their adaptability to aquatic environments.

Primaries: The longest and most important flight feathers on a bird’s wing, responsible for generating lift and thrust during flight.

Preen Gland: A gland located near the base of a duck’s tail, producing an oily substance used for preening and waterproofing the feathers.

Preening: The grooming behavior exhibited by ducks to clean and lubricate their feathers using oil secreted from the preen gland located at the base of the tail.

Q

Quack: The characteristic vocalization of ducks, produced by females more commonly than males, often used for communication.

R

Rectrices: The large, stiff feathers that make up the tail of a bird, providing stability and control during flight.

Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina): A diving duck species found in Europe and parts of Asia, known for the distinctive red crest on the male’s head.

Redhead (Aythya americana): A diving duck species with a striking red head and gray body, commonly found in North America.

Relative Humidity: The measure of moisture content in the air relative to the maximum amount of moisture the air can hold at a given temperature, crucial for maintaining proper egg incubation conditions.

Riemerella anatipestifer Infection: A bacterial infection causing septicemia, respiratory symptoms, and swollen joints in ducks, particularly in young or immunocompromised individuals.

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris): A diving duck species with a distinctive white ring around its bill, found in freshwater habitats across North America.

Roundworms (Ascarids): Among the most common internal parasites in ducks, roundworms inhabit the intestines and cause symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhea, and poor growth. Ducks can become infected by ingesting worm eggs from contaminated food, water, or the environment.

Rouen Duck (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus): A domestic duck breed similar in appearance to the Mallard but larger, with a distinctive plumage pattern.

Rouen Clair duck: A breed of duck known for its resemblance to the Mallard, with a distinct plumage pattern and calm demeanor.

Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis): A small diving duck species found in North and South America, known for its bold breeding plumage and stiff tail feathers.

S

Salmonellosis: A bacterial infection caused by various Salmonella strains, leading to diarrhea, dehydration, and mortality in ducks, particularly in young or stressed individuals.

Silver Appleyard duck: A domestic duck breed known for its striking silver and white plumage and excellent egg-laying abilities.

Saxony duck: A domestic duck breed originating from Saxony, Germany, known for its attractive plumage and dual-purpose nature.

Semois duck: A breed of duck originating from the Semois region of Belgium, valued for its adaptability and meat quality.

Set: Placing eggs in an incubator or under a broody hen for the purpose of incubation.

Setter: An incubator or setting machine used to maintain optimal conditions for egg incubation.

Shetland duck: A breed of duck native to the Shetland Islands, known for its adaptation to cold maritime climates and egg-laying abilities.

Sex Link: A genetic trait that differentiates male and female birds based on observable characteristics, such as coloration.

Sexing: Determining the gender of a bird is often done by examining physical characteristics or performing specialized procedures.

Silver Bantam: A small domestic duck breed known for its silver plumage and diminutive size.

Sport: A mutation or genetic variation resulting in observable differences in coloration or physical traits within a population.

Spot-billed Duck (Anas poecilorhyncha): A species of dabbling duck found in Asia, known for the distinctive yellow and black spots on its bill.

Straight Run: Young poultry that has not been sexed, typically resulting in a roughly equal mix of male and female individuals.

Swedish Blue: A domestic duck breed originating from Sweden, known for its blue-gray plumage and calm temperament.

Swedish Yellow duck: A domestic duck breed originating from Sweden, known for its yellow plumage and excellent egg-laying abilities.

Syrinx: The vocal organ of a duck, located at the base of the trachea where it divides into the bronchi. The syrinx allows ducks to produce a wide range of vocalizations.

T

Tail: The rear end of a duck, consisting of tail feathers that aid in balance and steering during flight.

Tapeworms (Cestodes): Flat, segmented parasites that attach to the walls of a duck’s intestines. These parasites can grow quite long and may be visible in the feces or around the duck’s vent. Tapeworm infestations can cause weight loss, poor appetite, and general weakness.

Tarsus: The part of a duck’s leg between the hock joint and the toes, equivalent to the human ankle. The tarsus provides support and stability during walking and swimming.

Tea Ankam: A breed of duck native to Tea Ankam, Indonesia, known for its adaptation to wetland habitats and egg-laying abilities.

Tea Kapa: A breed of duck native to Tea Kapa, Indonesia, valued for its adaptability and meat quality.

Termonde duck: A breed of duck originating from Termonde, Belgium, known for its meat quality and rapid growth.

Tsaiya Duck: A breed of duck native to Taiwan, known for its adaptability to local climates and egg-laying abilities.

True Fertility: The percentage of hatching eggs that are fertile, determined by examining eggs after a period of incubation to assess the presence of developing embryos.

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula): A small diving duck species found in Eurasia, characterized by its distinctive tuft of feathers at the back of the head.

U

Ukrainian Clay duck: A breed of duck native to Ukraine, known for its adaptation to clay-rich soils and egg-laying abilities.

Ukrainian Grey duck: A breed of duck native to Ukraine, characterized by its gray plumage and adaptability to local climates.

Ukrainian White duck: A breed of duck native to Ukraine, known for its white plumage and rapid growth.

V

Venetian duck: A breed of duck originating from the Veneto region of Italy, valued for its adaptability and meat quality.

Vent: The external opening of a bird’s cloaca, used for excretion of feces and urine, as well as for reproduction.

Vouillé duck: A breed of duck originating from Vouillé, France, known for its adaptation to local climates and conditions.

W

Waterfowl: A collective term for birds that are adapted for swimming and typically found near water, including ducks, geese, and swans.

Watervale duck: A breed of duck originating from Watervale, Australia, known for its adaptation to aquatic habitats and egg-laying abilities.

Webbed feet: Feet with interconnected skin membranes, enabling ducks to paddle efficiently in water.

Welsh Harlequin: A domestic duck breed originating from Wales, known for its colorful plumage and excellent egg-laying abilities.

Vent: The external opening of a bird’s cloaca, used for excretion of feces and urine, as well as for reproduction.

West Indian duck: A breed of duck native to the West Indies, known for its adaptation to tropical climates and egg-laying abilities.

Wet-Bulb Temperature: The temperature measured by a thermometer equipped with a wet sock, used to assess humidity levels in an incubator or other enclosed environment.

White-breasted black duck: A breed of duck characterized by its black plumage and white breast, valued for its meat quality and adaptability.

Wings: The forelimbs of a duck, adapted for flight and swimming, with primary and secondary feathers providing lift and propulsion.

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