What Are Baby Ducks Called – CHICKS?

Baby ducks in a group in a tin container

You probably already know that baby chickens are called “chicks”, but what are baby ducks called? Are baby ducks called chicks, too? Baby ducks are referred to as ducklings, which sounds just as cute as they are – but that’s not all they’re called. We’ll explore the different names of baby ducks and all about the duckling lifecycle!

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What Are Baby Ducks Called?

Baby ducks are called ducklings. A baby duck is one of the cutest animals you’ll ever see, what with its big, black eyes, tiny bill, and fluffy down. A group of young ducks is called a “brood.” Young ducks are extremely reliant on their caregiver or mother, but only for a brief period as most breeds reach maturity in just 1-2 months.

Duckling Terms

mother duck with ducklings
Just like almost every other animal type, there are specific names for baby ducks, adult ducks, groups of ducks, and male/female ducks.
A young duck is referred to regarded as a duckling, but what other names would you give to the various ducks in the flock? The female duck is known as just a duck once she reaches adulthood, while the male duck name is “drake”. A group of ducks might be referred to as a “raft,” “team,” or “paddling”, though many refer to a group of ducks as a flock. A group of ducklings has sometimes termed a flock but is more commonly called a brood (and occasionally, a waddle).

All About Ducklings

What Do Ducklings Look Like?

Ducklings are typically brown or yellow in color. This is called their “down feathers”. After 7–9 weeks, they begin to develop contour feathers, which look more like an adult duck. While ducklings can vary somewhat from one species to the next, there are some aspects that all ducklings share:
  • The colors yellow and brown are common in ducklings.
  • They measure 4 to 5 inches in height.
  • Ducklings are fluffy because they have no contour feathers, only down, when they hatch.
Ducklings can have orange-yellow or black feet, as well as pink, orange, or blackish-brown bills. Here’s a great video showing what different breeds of ducklings look like:

Hatching Season

Ducklings can be purchased from hatcheries year-round because ducks can be induced to lay eggs with the help of artificial lights. The peak of egg production occurs between late March and early June. By the end of the fall, ducks that aren’t artificially encouraged to lay will slow egg production considerably, if not cease totally. It’s important to note that a duckling born in the winter will have a harder time surviving outdoors than one born in the spring or summer.

Duckling Sizes

How big ducklings are depends on their breed. The Pekin duck is one of the most common types of domesticated ducks. The larger “Jumbo Pekin” version of this breed of chicken is also available. When fully grown, Jumbo Pekins can outweigh most other duck breeds by several pounds. Call ducks are one of the tiniest domestic duck breeds, with most adults weighing less than 2 pounds (what they lack in size they more than makeup for in chatter, however). Compared to larger ducklings like the Jumbo Pekin, Call ducklings will be quite little.

Duck Parenting

Many ducks in a line
The family dynamic is different for every animal and ducklings typically leave home early as they’re fully mature at around 1-2 months of age.


Male ducks do not pitch in to assist raise their young. Although ducks do form pairs, these relationships typically last for only one year (and even then, drakes are famous for their wandering eyes). In the wild, a female duck will mate with a drake, and the drake will remain with her thereafter to protect her from other male ducks. The drake will spend less and less time with his mate when the ducklings hatch, eventually abandoning her altogether in the fall when he begins his annual molt. For captive ducks, the norms will shift slightly. When the drake and duck ratio is right in a captive situation, he will mate with every female duck in the flock. However, the domestic drake will still show an innate tendency to guard the females and pay no attention to the young.


Female ducks will care for their ducklings until they’re about 1-2 months of age. Ducklings won’t be able to survive without their mother before they fledge, or mature. After fledging, ducklings will become independent of their mother and begin mating and laying eggs, themselves, at around 4 months of age.

Determining a Duckling’s Gender

ducklings in a group
Determining the duckling’s gender is similar to determining a human’s gender. Also, their quacks are different between males and females, so this could tell you as well.
One of the safest ways to tell a duck’s sex is also one of the most accurate. The term for this behavior is “vent-sexing.” The duckling’s vent is the hole at the end of its tail by which it defecates and mates. Male ducklings are born with a penis, however, it’s tiny and covered by a protective sheath. The male genitalia can be identified by holding the duckling upside down and gradually stretching the edges of the vent open. WARNING: If the duckling is not handled with extreme caution and attention during the vent sexing process, serious harm can be done to the animal. If you’re new to handling ducklings, it’s best to consult with a vet or duck farmer who has some experience with this. You can also wait to listen for the quacks. By the time she’s 6 weeks old, a female duckling should start giving you that distinctive quack. Male ducks won’t quack but will have a lower, raspy sound. Read our related article, Why Do Ducks Quack So Much? to learn more about quacking!

Can Ducklings Swim?

Yes! That said, very young ducklings (less than 1 week old) aren’t the best swimmers and can drown if left unattended in or near water that’s too deep for them to stand in, or too steep for them to climb out of. That said, ducklings can float and will learn to swim behind mom after 1 week.

The Takeaway

The term “duckling” is used to refer to baby ducks, which sounds just as adorable as they look! We hope this guide to ducklings has given you a better insight into these fluffy animals.

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