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The Anatidae family has over 150 species. These include known waterfowl and unknown specimens. In the following article you will find some wild ducks that live in Germany.

In a nutshell

  • belong to the order Geese
  • live almost everywhere in the world
  • vegetarian or omnivore diet
  • Mallard is particularly common in Germany

The Anatidae

Anatidae are part of the order Anatidae. Within the anatidae there are traditionally geese and ducks. Consequently, the term wild duck includes all ducks that have not been domesticated by humans.

Notice: It is often surprising that geese are among the ducks. Anatidae is the family. Geese, half geese and ducks are subfamilies within this group.

15 wild duck species in Germany

Anatidae are found on almost every continent in the world. In temperate climates, ducks like to wander a lot. There are also diurnal and nocturnal ducks. Here is an overview of some wild ducks that occur in Germany.

Wild ducks from A - K

Scaup (Aythya marila)

  • occurs in coniferous forest zone
  • often to Europe in winter, only sporadically in Central Europe
  • up to 50 cm tall and about 1.2 kg heavy
  • Neck, chest: black, dark tail and white sides, gray back, dark green head feathers
  • strong similarities to tufted duck
  • mainly animal food

Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

  • Anatidae family, also known as shelducks
  • 2 different populations in the world
  • prefers regions near the coast
  • 58 to 67 cm tall
  • visually similar to the shoveler
  • Feathers: black-grey, darker stripe from shoulders to tail
  • black band on belly, brown chest, rest of body white
  • Flight noise conspicuously whistling, mainly moves on at night

wood duck (Aix sponsa)

  • natural occurrence: North America, actively imported to Europe
  • no free living self-sustaining colonies in Europe
  • worldwide occurrence significantly recovered
  • omnivorous diet
  • up to 54 cm tall, smaller than European mallards
  • Male: showy, colorful plumage
  • Females: gray head and grey-brown plumage

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

  • most common waterfowl worldwide
  • second largest goose species in Europe, diurnal and nocturnal
  • Plumage lighter than other geese
  • up to 90 cm tall, up to 4 kg in weight
  • longitudinally striped feathers and pale forewings

Wild ducks from L - Q

Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)

  • smaller than mallard
  • striking plumage and contrasting colors
  • in almost all of Europe
  • up to 50 cm tall and up to 1.1 kg in weight
  • white chest and dark back with reddish-brown spots - males and females differ significantly

Moor duck (Aythya nyroca)

  • belongs to diving ducks
  • European duck species, temperate climate zone
  • up to 42 cm tall and weighs up to 560 g
  • brown plumage, white eyes
  • Females: somewhat paler
  • in shallow waters, diet: vegetarian

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

  • duck bird that to the half geese heard
  • increasingly common in Europe, urban parks
  • dark spots on eyes
  • Sexes similar, males slightly larger
  • Origin: Africa

Wigeon (Mareca penelope)

  • mostly in the north
  • in winter in the south as long as over 1.5 million specimens in Europe
  • Body length up to 51 cm
  • slightly smaller than common mallards
  • Male: red-brown head
  • Females: paler

Wild ducks from R - S

Odyssey Duck (Oxyurini)

  • diving wild ducks are completely different from other species
  • adapted to life in the water
  • distributed on almost all continents
  • in Europe, however, rarely found on rivers and lakes
  • Nutrition of plant and animal matter from bottom sludge

Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

  • northern coniferous forest zone, often near water
  • particularly short neck and large head
  • popular winter guest in our region
  • up to 50 cm tall and up to 1.3 kg in weight
  • Male: black and white, dark head
  • Females: grey, dark brown head
  • Diet: Snails, parts of plants, fish and insects
  • dives up to 8 m deep

Gadwall (Mareca strepera)

  • also called middle duck and ratchet
  • Male: inconspicuous plumage
  • up to 55 cm tall and 1.3 kg heavy
  • orange-yellow legs and black-colored eyes
  • widespread in Central Europe
  • prefers life on shallow lakes
  • feeds on plants instead of animal matter

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

  • most famous swimming duck Europe, distributed worldwide
  • Anatidae family
  • Males: metallic green head and yellow beak
  • Females: orange-yellow bill but light brown body
  • natural enemies are foxes and species of birds of prey
  • undemanding diet, omnivorous, eats whatever it can get
  • vertical takeoff in flight

Wild ducks from T - Z

Common scoter (Melanitta nigra)

  • Name comes from black coloring
  • in winter at the Baltic Sea and North Sea
  • up to 1.4 kg heavy and 54 cm tall
  • usually flies fast and low instead of high
  • in large groups, because sociable animals
  • eat small fish and insects in fresh water
  • dive up to 30 m deep

Black swan (Cygnus atratus)

  • only swan that is almost entirely black
  • from Western Australia
  • wild specimens released in Europe
  • up to 140 cm long
  • up to 6 kg heavy
  • greet each other in a loud voice
  • sheltered bays and estuaries
  • not a migratory bird, but stays in 1 region all its life

Lesser Goose (Anser erythropus)

  • rarest goose species in Europe
  • Migratory bird, also in western Europe in winter
  • up to 66 cm tall
  • up to 2.2 kg heavy
  • brown and white plumage, cream colored head
  • Foraging takes place on land
  • Breeding season May to June
  • but critically endangered species

frequently asked Questions

How do ducks reproduce?

Most ducks do not breed in colonies but are monogamous. The female takes care of nest building. Four to thirteen eggs and an incubation period of between 3 and 6 weeks are the norm. The young can walk and swim immediately. In the first few weeks, the parents accompany their offspring.

What Do Ducks Eat?

In terms of diet, ducks are very different. Most ducks feed on grasses, herbs and mosses. But crustaceans and insects are also on the menu.

Are there ducks that are not wild?

Throughout history, humans have domesticated several species of ducks: the greylag goose, mallard, swan goose, musky duck, and Egyptian goose. However, some species also occur wild. Nile gooses are only found in the wild these days.

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