Duck A typical duck has a torpedo-shaped body, a rounded head, and a slightly flattened and rounded bill. Some species are quite small, while others are larger, but they are smaller than geese and swans. They also have relatively long necks, but again, shorter than geese and swans.
Some black-bellied species of ducks such as the Fulvous Whistling-Duck have white underparts, which distinguish it from a pied duck. In females, most species are generally brown with some plumage coloration being different between them. Males on the other hand have a uniform black or black and white plumage that is sometimes marked with iridescent patches of color. In most species, a white wing stripe is seen in flight feathers when the birds are flying away from the observer.
One exception of this rule is the Speckled Teal which is predominantly grey with a light-brown head and neck speckles, except for the male’s mantle which is almost entirely black. Some species of duck, such as the Falcated Duck, have patterns of blue iridescent feathers.
The Mallard for example has a green speculum (patch on primaries visible in flight) bordered by white, and black outer tail feathers. The male has an iridescent dark green to purple head with a white patch near the bill, while the female is mottled brown with a white patch on her crown.
The cinnamon-colored female Mallard has an iridescent green speculum bordered by black and touches of white on each side of its head. They have a large dark green patch at the base of the bill. The male Common Teal has a distinctive green speculum bordered by white with an iridescent purple patch on its brown head. The male Northern Pintail has a blue-green speculum bordered by white and is surrounded by light grey body feathers.
The female Northern Pintail has two color morphs, gray or brown. These ducks also have dark bodies on top with varying amounts of speckles.
Speckled Ducks are on average 33-37 cm (13-15 in.) long, and generally feed by dabbling or walking on land. They are almost exclusively associated with freshwater lakes and ponds, though some species spend their winter around estuaries. When they fly, the speculum feathers do not form a complete ring, and the tail is short compared to other ducks.
Species of duck have relatively short necks, but longer ones than their relatives in Anatidae. They range from 50 to 65 cm (20-26 inches) long with a wingspan of 66 to 80 cm (26-32 inches). The males weigh about 500 g (1 lb.) and the females weigh about 400 g (14 ounces), which is significantly less than most geese and swans.
Global duck production
In 2013, global duck production reached 4.23 million metric tons, up from 3.96 million metric tons in 2012. The top 10 countries producing ducks (in order of highest to lowest production) were China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hungary, Brazil, Thailand, the Philippines, France, Latvia, and the United Kingdom. Combined, these countries accounted for 92% of the world's duck production.
The vast majority of ducks are raised in Asia, with China alone accounting for over 60% of global production. Ducks have been bred and raised in China for over 1,500 years and are an important part of the country's culinary tradition. In Vietnam, duck is also widely consumed and is often served with rice and vegetables.
Indonesia is the third largest producer of ducks, with production totaling nearly 400,000 metric tons in 2013. Ducks are typically raised in smallholder farms in Indonesia, with most birds being used for egg production rather than meat.
Hungary is the fourth largest duck-producing country in the world, with production totaling just over 200,000 metric tons in 2013. The majority of ducks raised in Hungary are used for meat, with the country's distinct white Pekin duck being particularly popular.
Brazil is the fifth largest producer of ducks, with production reaching nearly 200,000 metric tons in 2013. Duck raising is typically done on small farms in Brazil, with most birds being used for egg production.
Thailand is the sixth largest producer of ducks, with production totaling just over 150,000 metric tons in 2013. Thai duck farmers typically use intensive farming methods, with ducks often being kept in cages. The majority of ducks raised in Thailand are used for meat production.
The Philippines is the seventh largest producer of ducks, with production reaching just over 100,000 metric tons in 2013. Ducks are typically raised on smallholder farms in the Philippines, with most birds being used for egg production.
France is the eighth largest producer of ducks, with production totaling just over 100,000 metric tons in 2013. The majority of ducks raised in France are used for meat, with the country's distinctive Muscovy duck being particularly popular.
Latvia is the ninth largest producer of ducks, with production reaching just over 50,000 metric tons in 2013. The majority of ducks raised in Latvia are used for meat, with the country's Pekin ducks being particularly popular.
The United Kingdom is the tenth largest producer of ducks, with production totaling just over 50,000 metric tons in 2013. The majority of ducks raised in the UK are used for meat, with the country's distinctive white Pekin duck being particularly popular.