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The word "animal" comes from the Latin word animale, neuter of animalis, and is derived from anima, meaning vital breath or soul. In everyday colloquial usage, the word usually refers to non-human animals. The biological definition of the word refers to all members of the Kingdom Animalia. Therefore, when the word "animal" is used in a biological context, humans are included.
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About Ducks

Posted by WishbonE at 2:25 AM

Friday, August 22, 2008

About Ducks

Did you know that a duck's quack doesn't echo? Nobody knows why.
Ducks are birds, they are aquatic birds and members of the Anatidae family, closely related to geese and swans. They are also called "waterfowls" because they are normally found in places with water like ponds, streams and rivers. They are related to geese and swans. The duck is the smallest of them all. Ducks also have shorter necks and wings and a stout body.

Ducks have webbed feet, designed for swimming. Their webbed feet act like paddles for the ducks. The overall bodyplan of ducks is elongated and broad, and the ducks are also relatively long-necked, albeit not as long-necked as the geese and swans. The body shape of diving ducks varies somewhat from this in being more rounded. The bill is usually broad and contains serrated lamellae] which are particularly well defined in the filter-feeding species. In the case of some fishing species the bill is long and strongly serrated. The scaled legs are strong and well developed, and generally set far back on the body, more so in the highly aquatic species. The wings are very strong and are generally short and pointed, and the flight of ducks requires fast continuous strokes, requiring in turn strong wing muscles. Another special thing that the duck has is its water-proof feathers. There is a special gland that produces oil near the duck's tail which spreads and covers the outer coat of the duck's feathers, making it water-proof. Beneath the water-proof coat are fluffy and soft feathers to keep the duck warm.

Ducks are found in wetlands, marshes, ponds, rivers, lakes and oceans. This is because ducks love the water. Some species of ducks migrate or travel longs distances every year to breed. Usually they travel to warmer areas or where the water does not freeze so that they can rest and raise their young. The distance may be thousands of miles away. Ducks are found everywhere in the world except the Antartica which is too cold for them. Domesticated ducks, excepting Muscovies, are all descended from Mallards. Ducks were first domesticated by Chinese many hundreds of years ago. Most farm ducks belong to a species called Pekin.

for a mate or partner in winter. The males will attract the females with their colorful plumage or feathers. The females will then lead the males to their breeding gDucks keep clean by preening themselves. They do this by putting their heads in funny positions and putting their beaks into their body. They preen themselves very often. Ducks usually lookround in spring. The breeding ground will usually be the place where she was hatched. The female builds her nest with grass or reeds or even in a hole in a tree. The male will guard their territory by chasing away other couples. Once the female lays 5-12 eggs, she will start to sit on her eggs to keep it warm so that they can hatch into ducklings. The males on the other hand, will be with the other males. The eggs will hatch within 28 days normally, except for the Muscovy which takes about 35 days to hatch. The mother duck will keep her brood of ducklings together to protect them from predators. Animals like the racoon, turtles, hawks, large fish and snakes will eat the ducklings. Ducklings are able to fly within 5-8 weeks. Their feathers develop really fast. When the young are ready to fly, all the ducks will gather in flocks on large lakes, marshes or the ocean to migrate to their wintering home. When the ducks fly, they usually do so in a "V-shaped" or a long line. The production of eggs are affected by daylight. When there is more daylight, the ducks will lay more eggs. In the months of July to December when daylight is short, they slow down their production of eggs. Sometimes, they stop laying eggs completely during these months. To prevent this from happening, farmers use artificial lighting so that the ducks have about 17 hours of light a day to produce eggs efficiently.

Ducks like other animals are useful to human beings. They provide us with eggs and meat to eat. Some ducks provide us with feathers are used for stuffing quilts and pillows. The feathers are usually from the Eider duck. Thus, the name "eiderdown" for stuffed quilts. The females pluck their feathers from her breast to line her nest. Their feathers are harvested in Iceland where they are found everywhere along the coast. They feed on mussels, sea snails, crabs, shrimps, barnacles, catch fish, dig for snails and eat other small crustaceans and some sea-weeds.

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