Ducks are highly sociable birds and are almost always seen in groups. Most collective nouns generally date back to the late middle ages but are still used today. But let's cut to the chase; what are a group of ducks called?
The collective noun used for a group of ducks depends on where they are. For example, a group of ducks can be referred to as either a raft or paddling on the water. On the ground, a group of ducks can be called a waddling and a badelyng or badling - which is a common term to describe a brood of ducks.
Continue reading for a complete list of names for a group of ducks, specific collective nouns for certain species of ducks and more information about why and when they form groups.
When in flight, a group of ducks can be called a skein, a flock or a team. Other terms are also used, but these three are the most widely used.
The term skein can also apply to a group of geese in flight as well as ducks, which we'll go into more detail below as to why this term is used.
A flock of mallards flying in the sky
Skein is the term used to describe a group of ducks, geese or other wildfowl in flight. The different meaning is a length of yarn or wool.
It's thought that 'skein' is a collective noun for ducks, geese and other wildfowl in flight is; when these types of birds are flying, they are generally always in neat, orderly and tight formations which can resemble a piece of yarn or wool flying through the sky.
This may take a bit of imagination or eye squinting, but next time you see a group of these birds in flight, have a look and see if you can see the resemblance!
The orderly formations can usually be seen in smaller groups of birds in flight. When migrations occur with hundreds, and sometimes thousands of ducks, geese, and wildfowl happen, these lines can't be seen and instead look like giant tangled balls of wool.
When ducks are in groups on the water, they are often close to one another, making them appear as a solid floating body of ducks. Because of this, they resemble a raft floating on the water.
Rafts of ducks can occur during both the day and night. During the night, ducks can often form these groups on the water to sleep.
This provides them with the added security of safety in numbers, as there are more birds to provide a look-out and predators can be put off when they are all together.
A raft of ducks floating on the water
The most common term for a group of baby ducks is a brood, and other names include a flock and a waddle. Most ducks usually have clutches of around 12 eggs, which means a group of ducklings usually consists of 12 young birds.
A group of ducklings following their mother
Ducks generally feel most at ease when they are in large groups. This is because they are outgoing and sociable birds.
Forming these large groups means more security for ducks in general and can mean much higher survival rates for the pack.
Firstly, a large group of waterfowl has much more eyes and is better at detecting any nearby predators. As we know, ducks aren't the quietest of animals, and members of the flock are quick to notify the rest of the group.
Secondly, if a predator decides to attack, they can often get overwhelmed by the number of targets, which can confuse them and mean their attacks become much less successful.
Although gathering in these large flocks is mostly beneficial, there are a few negatives. For example, the loud noises produced by the conspicuous birds can attract both predators and hunters.
Another negative can be that the larger the flock, the more competition for food. This is generally only an issue when food sources are not abundant in certain habitats. When there is not enough food, some of the birds in the flock are unable to find food.
Diseases can also be a problem when large birds are in close proximity to one another for prolonged periods. Avian Cholera is one of the examples of many diseases that can be spread through bird-to-bird contact or ingestion of contaminated water or food.
Generally speaking, the positives outweigh the negatives and ducks, and other wildfowl (such as geese) have higher survival rates in large flocks.
A large group of Mallards
Ducks are one of the most gregarious (highly sociable) types of birds in the world and form groups together outside of the breeding season.
During the breeding season, ducks can become pretty aggressive towards one another and protect their mate from other birds.
When the breeding season is over, ducks become much friendlier towards one another and will happily form large groups with many other ducks. This doesn't only include their own species and can often include various species of geese and different types of waterfowl.
You may see ducks together most of the time, and this can include the breeding season. One of the reasons for this is because, in duck populations, males (drakes) generally outnumber females (hens).
Because of this, it means that many male birds are often unsuccessful in securing a mate and will often form groups and flocks with other males.
There isn't really a definitive answer to this, as the number of ducks in a flock is highly variable. Ducks in the wild can form flocks from anywhere between ten to twenty birds all the way up to the hundreds and even thousands.
Domestic and pet ducks are usually between three and fifteen birds, depending on the type of flock. Ducks as backyard pets, for example, typically contain around three birds, but mid-sized hobby flocks contain 15 - 20 birds.
A group of pet or domestic ducks in a small group
Generally speaking, a pair of ducks is called a brace. Ducks form pairs during the breeding season.
Mallards tend to start pairing up in October and November and will generally nest in March.
The term 'brace' dates back to old English times and has roots in Anglo-French. It is often used in hunting, where a brace generally means two. But in the case of ducks, it's used to describe a pair.
Mallards are one of the most common species of ducks in the world and can be found in most places. Like most other ducks, they are extremely sociable and form large groups.
There are many different collective nouns to describe a group of mallards; the most widely used include a sword, a suite, and a fistful.
Because mallards are extremely common, there are many collective nouns to describe a group of them. Some are entirely wacky and strange, but this is generally the case with most collective nouns!
Continue reading below for the full list of collective nouns for a group of mallards.
A small group of ducks resting together
Other terms for a group of mallards:
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