Duck Breeds and Their Behavior
There are over 100 known duck species spread across the globe that are generally classified both for different physical adaptations which make them suitable for different environments and climates and according to their behavior and temperament.
Ducks can be classified according to their feeding habits as either dabblers or divers. Dabblers forage on the surface of shallow water for food, while divers submerge and swim underwater, searching for food at deeper levels.
Contrary to popular belief, relatively few ducks have ‘quack’ calls. Instead, their vocalization consists of squeaks, whistles, growls and more. Females are more vocal than males except during the mating season where the males become equally noisy.
Ducks interbreed widely with other duck species, creating a wide range of indistinct plumages with unexpected color patterns and markings that are not always identifiable. Their traits are passed down and shared with the hybrids, and many are known for their friendly traits.
When choosing duck breeds for our homes we tend to look at their physical appearance, noise level, and egg-laying ability, and often tend to forget their characters and personalities.
Let’s have a detailed look at a few friendly ducks.
Friendliest Duck Breeds
Originally from China, Pekin ducks are a large breed mainly bred for their meat and egg production capabilities.
They are friendly and attractive birds that make a wonderful addition to your backyard flock. They are durable with a strong immune system and can withstand extreme conditions, enabling them to live for about 8 – 12 years.
They are too heavy to fly, and are therefore content to forage on the ground for weeds, grasses, bugs, and worms.
On average, they produce 100 – 200 eggs annually but don’t tend towards broodiness, making artificial incubation necessary if you are interested in hatching their eggs
They are entirely white in hue, with a creamy white plumage, and orange shanks and toes. Relatively short, their bill is yellow in color and almost straight. A black bill is, however, considered a defect.
A Pekin has a long, broad, deep, and fully breasted body form with a big spherical head, and a broad neck. The ducks weigh about 8 pounds while the drakes are approximately 9 pounds.
Pekins are calm, sociable, hearty, adorable, generally active, and fun to have around, making them excellent pets. They will always be excited when they see you coming, and will often let you pet and interact with them.
They can, however, at times nibble/bite you, not for a bad reason, maybe when they want to play or are over-excited. They can also be noisy at times, making them not the most ideal for places with noise restrictions.
The Call duck is a small duck breed believed to be originally from the Netherlands. Though the practice was banned, they were initially used as decoys for attracting wild ducks because of their high-pitched calls.
It is a descendant of the Mallard duck, but due to selective breeding, they have a smaller body and shorter bills. They are not popular for egg production, laying an average of around 100 small eggs annually.
This duck breed comes in a range of colors, among them, bibbed, apricot, chocolate, magpie, and khaki with a white and yellow belly.
They are physically similar to other duck breeds, except that they are smaller in size, with a petite body and a short bill.
The female Call ducks weigh about 1 to 1.3 pounds, while the drakes weigh about 1.2 to 1.5 pounds.
Call ducks are known for being lively, talkative, charming, energetic, approachable, and extremely fun to watch little birds, making them great playmates, especially for children.
They are known to be clean and tidy, so expect them to be in good shape, provided you give them clean and fresh water, with good food. This fact makes them easy to tame. Because of their small size, they can do well in a home with a small backyard.
They are, however, very noisy, making them not ideal for neighborhoods with noise restrictions.
They are great at flying, so avoid scaring or threatening them to keep them from flying away.
Mallards are wild ducks believed to be the original mother breed for most domestic ducks, except the Muscovies.
They are relatively small birds, only weighing about 2.5 pounds. Unlike other ducks, the mallards can only manage to lay about 60 – 120 beautiful greenish eggs annually, and often go broody and make excellent mothers. They are adaptable for almost any wetland, whether natural or artificial.
They are omnivorous birds, with the majority of their diet made of invertebrates like flies and beetles, crustaceans, worms, gastropods, including a variety of seeds and plant matter like roots and tubers.
Since they are excellent fliers, keeping them requires a covered run to keep them contained.
A mallard drake has a glossy bottle-green head with a white collar that demarcates the head from the pale grey belly, grey-brown wings, and purple-tinged brown breast. It also a yellowish-orange bill tipped with black, with a dark tail having white borders.
On the other hand, the females are brown with distinctive blue wingtips, with their bills generally darker, with hues from black to mottled orange.
Both the drakes and females share distinct iridescent purple-blue speculum feathers, edged with white, and consistent either at rest or in flight.
Although they are wild birds, they are calm, highly energetic, talkative, and good-mannered. They often easily flock with other duck breeds, making them easy to domesticate and make friendly companions.
They are excellent swimmers and it is always fun to watch them dive in and out of pools, lakes, ponds, or any other water body.
4. Khaki Campbell
The Khaki Campbell is a lightweight duck. It is a hybrid of the Runner, Rouen, and Mallard breeds, developed in England in the early 1900s.
Though considered a lightweight bird, the Khaki Campbells have limited flying capabilities, and they generally weigh about 3.5 – 5.5 pounds.
Although they are not famed for being broody, the Khaki Campbells are excellent layers, with their annual egg count being over 300 white eggs.
The Khaki Campbell has a relatively long body, head, neck, and bill, with dark-brown eyes.
The drakes have a greenish head and bill, with dark-orange legs and feet. The upper neck, lower back, and tail culverts are brown-bronze. The rest of the body plumage is a warm khaki.
The females have green bills with brown feet. The head, upper neck, and lower back are seal-brown, and the rest of the body plumage is khaki in color.
The Khaki Campbells are gentle, quiet, robust, active, and very strong ducks, who are very pleasing and appealing to handle.
Despite claims of flighty behavior, they are a passive and friendly breed, especially when raised by hand till they attain maturity. They make the best companions and friends.
5. Welsh Harlequin
This breed was developed by Leslie Bonnet in 1949 in Wales, from two mutant light-colored ducklings hatched from pure Khaki Campbells.
They are well known for their egg-laying abilities, with over 300 white eggs annually, and their lean high-quality meat. However, they make good backyard pets too.
They are poor fliers and weigh about 4.5 – 5.5 pounds.
The Welsh Harlequins’ hues are full white. After generations of breeding, the original form and shade have transformed, but they remain a lightweight duck breed.
The females have black bills and brown legs and feet, while the drakes have yellow/green bills with orange-colored feet, though there is a light golden-brown color variation of the drakes’ feet in the United Kingdom.
The Welsh Harlequins are calm, tranquil, and curious birds who make good backyard pets. However curious they can be, they are not easily alarmed, a fact that can be a downside for them since they could be prone to attacks.
Other Friendly Duck Breeds
Most ducks have amazing personalities, making them ideal for your backyard.
There are many other friendly duck breeds that include the Cayuga, Indian Runner, Swedish duck, Saxony, and the Rouen.
No matter the duck breed you choose to raise in your home, you will discover that keeping good-natured and productive poultry is an awesome experience since ducks always seem to be happy.
Spending time with them is the best way to bond and get closer to your pets, a way that encourages their friendliness to shine.
Maintaining ducks is an easy task since they are easily satisfied with fresh food, clean water for drinking and playing in, a safe place to sleep, and plenty of garden scraps, weeds, and greens.
Furthermore, every duck gets along with other duck breeds and chickens in a mixed flock, and socializing shouldn’t be an issue.