What Are Waterfowl? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Sara Clarke-Vivier

Sara is a recently graduated PhD in Education with interdisciplinary experience in K-12 education.

What is this web-footed and flat-beaked bird in my pond? Come on down to the water's edge for a lesson on waterfowl. You will learn what types of birds are called waterfowl, what they look like, and where they live.

Introducing Waterfowl

What has wings, but likes to swim? Lives in the water, but breathes air? Well, waterfowl, that's what!

You have probably met a waterfowl or two while visiting a park or zoo, or talking a walk in a local forest. Waterfowl is a term used to describe a group of birds that live on and near water. Waterfowl include birds like ducks, geese and swans.

Where do Waterfowl Live?

As their name suggests, waterfowl like to live on and near the water. They live near rivers, lakes and ponds around the world. Most of these birds eat plants, but some are omnivores who also eat small fish and other water creatures.

What do Waterfowl Have in Common?

Though the term waterfowl can apply to many different species of birds, they all have some common traits that make it possible for them to live comfortably in the water. These adaptations include special body shapes, wide and webbed feet, special beaks, and oily feathers.

Though waterfowl come in many different sizes, they have similar shaped bodies. Waterfowl usually have long necks, which help with feeding under the water. They also have legs that are adapted to both swim and walk well on land. Additionally, waterfowl have short but strong wings, which they can beat quickly and which help them take off to fly from the water's surface.

Geese with Wide Webbed Feet
Geese with Webbed Feet

Waterfowl's webbed feet make it easier for them to swim on the water's surface. The wide, flat webs work like the oars of a boat and help these birds push water as they bend them while paddling on the surface.

A Duck With a Flat Bill
A Duck with a Flat Bill

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