Anatidae family: description and representatives of the family

Anatidae family: description and representatives of the family
Anatidae family: description and representatives of the family

In our article we want to talk about representatives of the duck family, which are the largest group among waterfowl. They were the first to be domesticated by man in antiquity. Their importance in agriculture is still great today.

Duck in our life

Anatidae family has more than 150 species, which, in turn, are subdivided into forty genera. The predecessors of these birds lived on earth in ancient times. There are many proofs for this. Archaeologists have found the remains of a bird (the ancestor of the modern duck), whose age is about 50 million years.

family of ducks

Members of the family still play an important role in our lives, as they are kept in households for obtaining fluff, eggs and meat. Industrial hunting does not have the best effect on the number of birds.

Family description

The duck family is not only numerous, but also quite diverse. Representatives of the family differ significantly from each other not only in size, but also in color. For example, the weight of birds ranges from 250 grams (pygmy African goose) totwenty kilograms (mute swan). Representatives of the family have a characteristic, dense plumage, covered with a waterproof lubricant. This is due to the fact that the waterfowl of the duck family is almost always in the water.

Birds have a characteristic long and flexible neck, a flattened and wide beak, a streamlined body with a large supply of subcutaneous fat. And their legs are short, widely spaced, with fingers connected by membranes. All birds of the family are able to move on land, but at the same time they are excellent swimmers, and some even dive. Birds fly beautifully and are able to reach speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour.

The habits of the members of the family

Anatidae are monogamous and have complex social bonds. They prefer to nest near water bodies, and sometimes on islets. Female nests are lined with fluff, which is previously plucked from the abdomen. Chicks are born sighted, they grow quickly and actively develop. After a couple of days, the kids can get their own food. They feed, as a rule, in the dark. Absolutely all birds have a shy nature, and therefore try to be extremely careful.

duck family birds

It is believed that some species have well-developed sense organs: smell, sight, hearing. Even the duck's beak itself has a certain sensitivity.

The Duck family is far from stupid birds. Many of them have a developed mind, like geese, for example. They convey the accumulated life experience from onegeneration to another.

Duck habitats and food

The Duck family is very numerous and at the same time has a wide habitat. They are distributed almost throughout the globe (the exception is Antarctica). Absolutely all species molt twice a year: completely in summer and partly in autumn (or winter).

With a complete molt, birds even lose the ability to fly. Feathers feed on plant food: green parts of plants, seeds, basal parts of aquatic plants, shoots. But animal food for them is in second place. The feeding process takes place both in water and on land. Birds don't usually dive. They get food from the bottom of reservoirs by immersing their neck in water, sometimes the front part of their body.

goldeneye family of ducks

Ornithologists suggest that once upon a time, ducks began to spread across the globe from one of the continents located in the Southern Hemisphere. And today they are found all over the world. They are not only in Antarctica and on some islands in the oceans. It often happens that the same species is found in completely different places, in different conditions of existence (for example, in tropical and temperate climates).

Scientists believe that this phenomenon occurs due to the deviation of the migratory routes of birds. They simply go astray and settle on new lands in small colonies. Over time, they undergo certain changes in color, size, and even stop leading a migratory lifestyle.

Almost all birds of the duck family -waterfowl. That is why they live near water bodies, in the coastal zone. And some settle in the sea. On any reservoir you can see one of the representatives of this family. And many deliberately settle next to a person, in gardens and parks.

List of duck species

Ducks are an extensive family, which includes three subfamilies: ducks, geese and semi-fingered geese. There are more than 150 varieties in total. These include:

  1. Greyhead.
  2. Whitehead dive.
  3. Grosser.
  4. Redhead dive.
  5. Mallard.
  6. Google goose.
  7. Mute Swan.
  8. Screamer swan.
  9. Sailor.
  10. Common Eider.
  11. Gogol ordinary.
  12. Svityaz.
  13. Sledo.
  14. Gray duck.
  15. Grey Goose
  16. Crested Duck.
  17. Singa.
  18. Teal Whistle.
  19. Pintail.
  20. Teal crackling.

We see how large the family of ducks is. The list we have provided is far from complete. It contains only a few species. Let's dwell on some of them in more detail.


Gogol (family of ducks) is a diving duck, which belongs to nomadic migratory species and is represented by two subspecies that live in North America and Eurasia. Birds winter in the south (including the Mediterranean basin). Birds often winter in Italy.

family of mandarin ducks

They nest in forested areas near lakes and large rivers, and winter along the seacoasts or fresh waters. In May and April, the birds lay up to 11 eggs, which the female later incubates (for 29 days). The chicks remain in the nest for only a couple of days, and at the age of 8-9 weeks they begin to fly. Every year, birds make only one clutch. They always gather in small groups, which they keep throughout their lives. Gogol flies fast enough, and takes off after a run on the water. The bird feeds on animal food, which it takes out under water, diving several meters.

Gogol (family of ducks) has an interesting feature to arrange their nests in tree hollows, rabbit holes and artificial nest boxes. The male displays characteristic mating behavior. Related species are the Icelandic goldeneye (breeding in America, Italy and Iceland) and the little loot (breeding in Northern Eurasia).

Whooper Swan

The whooper swan is a bird that got its name from the trumpet sounds made in flight. Whoopers are very large birds, their weight can reach ten kilograms. They feed in shallow water, completely immersing their head in the water along with their long neck and front part of the body.

Underwater birds get plant roots, seeds, catch small invertebrates: larvae, insects and crustaceans. They take off from the water surface with difficulty due to their impressive weight. At first, the birds take a long run, splashing their paws on the water, and then gradually begin to gain height. Whoopers winter in the north of the Mediterranean, on the Caspian coast, and some of the birds fly to southeast Asia.

swan whooper bird

Swans prefer open spaces: lagoons, lakes, estuaries, and the sea coast. They equip nests in wetlands, on islets, peat bogs, in the tundra, on lakes. From the end of May, the nesting period begins. Females lay three to five eggs and then incubate them. Chicks are born in 31-42 days. Juveniles begin to fly independently at the age of 11-14 weeks.

The related species include the tundra swan, which has a more modest size. This northern bird of the duck family breeds, as a rule, in the Arctic zone of Eurasia, sometimes it can be found in Italy. But the black swan originated from Australia, and was brought to Europe as a decorative feathered one.


Who else represents the Duck family? Mandarin duck is perhaps the most beautiful duck in the world. Of course, we are talking about the drake, but the female is also good, but less brightly colored. This type of duck has a second name - "Chinese duck". For many centuries in a row, such birds adorned the imperial reservoirs in Japan, Korea and China, and therefore were called tangerines (mandarin is a major official in Asia). Therefore, tangerine fruits have nothing to do with the origin of the name.

northern bird of the duck family

The bird is small and weighs between 0.5 and 0.8 kilograms. It belongs to the forest ducks. In length, individuals reach 40-48 centimeters. Males have very bright breeding coloring. From the beginning of September to July, sideburns and a crest form on the head and neck of drakes. ATbright orange notes appear in color with transitions to purple, green and brown. The beak is bright red and the legs are yellow. Males are very beautiful, but females look much more modest, their colors are dominated by gray-white and olive-brown shades. Tangerines fly well, and also swim well and even dive. On land, they move quite quickly. But their voice is not at all like the usual quacking, although they represent the duck family. The Mandarin makes a squeak or soft whistle.


These beautiful birds originally lived in East Asia. In Russia, they currently nest in the Primorsky and Khabarovsk Territories, in the Amur and Sakhalin Regions. In the northern regions, mandarin ducks behave like migratory birds. In September, they fly to China and Japan for the winter.

Tangerines have a characteristic: they love to live in a tree. Sometimes their hollows are found at a height of six meters. Such an unusual way of life made the ducks learn to jump from a height without any damage to themselves.

Mandarin ducks live near mountain streams, over which trees hang, and in forests near water bodies. In Russia, this breed is listed in the Red Book because of its scarcity. You can’t hunt such ducks, they are bred in parks and gardens as an ornamental breed.

As we have already said, birds prefer to nest near the water, giving preference to windbreaks. On command, the female ducklings dive directly from the hollow and then learn to swim. The diet of tangerines includes fish, beetles, snails, plant seeds,acorns and frogs. Ducks can rise vertically in the air, and therefore they easily find food in oak plantations. In addition, tangerines feed on rice, cereal shoots, buckwheat.

Features of the behavior of tangerines

Twice a year they change plumage. In June, the males shed their most beautiful outfit and become like females. Tangerines return from wintering very early, sometimes at a time when the snow has not yet melted. During the mating season, drakes feud over the female.

Ducks lay between seven and fourteen eggs. A month later, the chicks appear. During the incubation period, the females do not leave the nest, they are fed by the male. All summer, both parents are engaged in raising their offspring, they teach them to swim, fly, and defend themselves from predators. Babies can fly as early as forty days.

duck family list

In the summer, tangerines are completely unpretentious and get along well with other birds in any water bodies, so they are often bred in zoos and arboretums as an ornamental species, providing them with conditions close to natural. But at the same time, it should be remembered that birds cannot tolerate temperatures below five degrees, in winter they cannot live on the street.

Patagonian geese

This genus of ducks contains five species: the Patagonian Goose, the Grey-headed Magellanic Goose, the Red-Headed Goose, the Common Magellanic Goose and the Andean Goose. The habitat of birds is the Falkland Islands and South America, Chile, Peru. Patagonian geese have conservation status. Birds feedplant food, preferring to walk on forest edges and clearings. Their favorite foods are: rhizomes, seeds, shoots, leaves, cereals. In general, this genus is practically no different from other duck representatives.


Mallard (Anatidae family) is the largest river duck. Outwardly, males differ from females. They have a gray body, chestnut breast and green head. Mallards live in any water bodies, but they prefer to nest on bumps, on the ground, less often in hollows, sometimes they can settle quite far from the water. Mallard is very common in Europe. The body of the bird has a thick layer of down. The feathers are lubricated with an oily mixture secreted by the oil gland, so the duck never gets wet, although it is always in the water.

Mallards have swimming webs between their toes that help them swim. Ducks are excellent flyers, but they are extremely clumsy on land. Birds feed on insects, amphibians, worms, shoots, plant foods. It was these ducks that were first domesticated by ancient people.

Instead of afterword

As we could see, the Duck family is not only a very large group of birds, but also quite diverse. Its representatives live all over the world, in various parts of the planet, but at the same time they have incredibly similar features.

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