Duckling Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kristin Pia Hayman

Kristin taught for over 10 years in the elementary classroom. She holds a B.A. in Journalism as well as a Master's Degree in Elementary Education.

A 'duckling' simply refers to any type of young duck. This lesson will explore some of the traits, habitats and behaviors of the different types of ducklings.


Is there anything cuter than a baby duck? With their fluffy feathers and tiny little faces, baby ducks, or ducklings, are as cute as they come. But there is a whole lot more to these birds than just their looks.

A little background: The word 'duck' refers to a species of water birds with short necks and large bills. Ducks are part of a group with swans and geese called waterfowl. These birds make their habitat in and around the water. A duckling is simply just the name for a young duck.

Ducklings are born looking different from their parents

What Do They Look Like?

Aside from being cute, ducklings have many features that are unique to their species. Ducklings are born without their feathers, and instead they have a fluffy fuzz-like covering. Eventually they grow their own feathers like their parents.

Adult ducks have waterproof feathers, which makes it easy for them to be in the water all day. However, the ducklings are not born with waterproof feathers. Instead, they get some protection from their mother for a couple of months until they grow their permanent feathers. Once they do this, they can swim and fly on their own. Freedom!

Ducklings can swim soon after they hatch

How Are They Born?

Many birds lay just a few eggs at a time, but not the duck! Females lay up to 15 eggs at one time. To keep them warm, she sits on them for about a month before they begin to hatch. Different types of ducks lay different sized eggs, and usually the larger eggs produce larger ducklings. Go figure!

But, there's no time to rest with recently hatched ducklings. After only a day in the nest, they head out to the water with their parents. It sounds unbelievable, but they begin swimming almost immediately. They can even feed themselves when they get to the water, although they still need guidance from their moms to learn what they can and can't eat. After a month or two they are able to fly on their own.

A brood of ducklings

How Do They Live?

These ducklings have to survive the first few weeks, and unfortunately that's not as easy as it sounds. Because they cannot fly away or swim very fast, ducklings are at risk for being tasty meals for many other animals. They sometimes also have to fight cold weather and lack of food.

But once they are strong enough, these ducklings learn to become more and more independent. They can find their own food, and they mainly live on plants and grasses found in the water, as well as small insects and tadpoles.

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