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A male mallard duck
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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 grasses, 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:

  • Dendrocygninae: the whistling ducks. There are 9 species in the genus Dendrocygna which has a worldwide distribution through the tropics and subtropics, and a single diving species, Thalassornis leuconotus the White-backed Duck[?] of Africa, which is difficult to classify and has often been placed in the Oxyurinae (which it resembles in morphology and feeding habits). It appears that the similarity is largely a matter of convergence, however.

  • Anatinae: perching, diving, and dabbling ducks. The Anatinae are further divided into three groups:

The Anseriformes and rails 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.

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: wildfowl, waterfowl

Fictional, anthropomorphized ducks: The Ugly Duckling[?] by Hans Christian Andersen, and Walt Disney's Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck, Daisy Duck, Scrooge McDuck.

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