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duck, common name for wild and domestic waterfowl of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and swans. It is hunted and bred for its meat, eggs, and feathers. Strictly speaking, duck refers to the female and drake to the male. Ducks are usually divided into three groups: the surface-feeding ducks—such as the mallard, wood duck, black duck, and teal—which frequent ponds, marshes, and other quiet waters; the diving ducks—such as the canvasback, scaup, scoter, eider, and redhead—found on bays, rivers, and lakes; and the fish-eating ducks, the mergansers, with slender, serrated bills, which also prefer open water. The surface feeders take wing straight up, while the divers patter along the water's surface in taking off. Ducks make long migratory flights. At the time of the postnuptial molt, the power of flight is temporarily lost, and most of the Northern Hemisphere drakes assume “eclipse” plumage similar to that of the female. The ancestor of all domestic breeds (see poultry), except the Muscovy of South American origin, is the mallard, Anas boscas, which is found in Europe, Asia, and North America. In the mallard drake a white ring separates the bright-green head and neck from the chestnut breast, the back is grayish brown, the tail white, and the wings have blue patches. The wood duck, Aix sponsa, smaller than the mallard, nests in hollow trees; the drake is a varicolored, iridescent ornament to lakes and ponds. The blue-winged, green-winged, and European teals (genus Querquedula) are small ducks that fly with great speed. The canvasback, Fuligula vallisneria, is hunted widely for its palatable flesh. It has a chestnut head and neck, black bill and chest, and whitish back and underparts. A swift flier, it is also an expert swimmer and diver. It breeds from the Dakotas and Minnesota north and winters on the coastal waters along the entire continent. In northern countries a portion of the down with which the eider ducks line their nests is systematically collected, as are some of the eggs; since the eiders lay throughout the season, these are soon replaced. The mergansers, genus Mergus, also called sheldrakes or sawbills, are usually crested. They include the goosander and the smaller red-breasted merganser, both circumpolar in distribution, and the North American hooded merganser, similar to the Old World smew. Because their fish diet gives their flesh a rank taste, they are called by sportsmen “trash ducks.” Ducks are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Anseriformes, family Anatidae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



any one of a heterogeneous group of birds of the family Anatidae of the order Anseriformes. Ducks, which weigh anywhere from 300 to 1,700 g, are distributed throughout the world.

Ducks are divided according to structure, biology, and commercial importance into true ducks, pochards, and mergansers. True, or river or surface-swimming, ducks cannot dive. They feed in the shallows or on dry land, eating plants and animals. Their flesh is of the highest quality. The most valuable commercial species are the mallard (Anas platyrynchos), pintail (A. acuta), widgeon (A. penelope), gadwall (A. strepera), and various teals, such as the true teal (A. creced) and the Baikal teal (A formosd). All ducks are migratory, most flying south in winter; only a few winter in the north, on the sea or on bodies of water that remain unfrozen. Of the 35 species in the USSR, the majority winter along the southern part of the Caspian Sea.

The domestic duck (A. domestica) is descended from the wild mallard, which was domesticated approximately 1000 B.C. in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North America. Sexual maturity occurs at the age of six or seven months. During a single egg-laying cycle, which lasts five to six months, a single duck lays anywhere from 90 to 130 eggs. Molting occurs between cycles. It lasts about four months in a natural environment and about two months under artificial light conditions. Each egg weighs 85 to 90 g. The incubation period is 27 or 28 days. The adult male weighs 3 to 4 kg, and the adult female, 2 to 3½ kg.

Ducks are classified according to their purpose as meat-type ducks (Pekin, Gray Ukrainian, Black Whitebreasted), dual-purpose ducks (Khaki Campbell, Speculum), and egg-type ducks (Indian Runner). Ducks are raised primarily for meat. More than 90 percent of all ducks raised at kolkhozes and sovkhozes are Pekin ducks and their crosses. Meat-type ducks are raised mainly on specialized farms using advanced techniques. For example, the breeding stock is developed from two or three strains. Molting is artificially accelerated to prolong egg-laying periods, and the useful period of eggs layers is extended by various means. With such methods, a single duck of the breeding stock can yield up to 250 eggs per year. Ducks are commercially bred in batteries or in poultry houses, with or without limited ranging. The distribution of food and water is mechanized, as is the cleaning of cages. The microclimate is artificially controlled. The ducks are fed mixed feeds. Meat-type ducks are slaughtered 50 to 55 days after hatching, when they weigh 2½ kg or more.

Ducks are raised on ponds on some fish farms (see FISH-AND-DUCK FARM).


Ptitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 4. Edited by G. P. Dement’ev and N. A. Gladkov. Moscow, 1952.
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Bozhko, P. E. Proizvodstvo iaits i miasa ptitsy na promyshlennoi osnove, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1975.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a duck?

Ducks fall under the larger meaning of birds, especially if one dreams of them flying through the air. Ducks are also marine creatures, however, and submerge in water, the realm of the emotions and the unconscious. Thus, a diving duck indicates probing the emotions or the unconscious mind. Bringing something up from the depths may represent the surfacing of unconscious material.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


Close-woven, heavy fabric made of cotton and used for liquid filtration in the process industries, as well as for making sails, tents, and clothing.
(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for a number of small waterfowl in the family Anatidae, having short legs, a broad, flat bill, and a dorsoventrally flattened body.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

mouse, duck

A lead weight on a string; used to pull a sash cord over a sash pulley, to clear a blocked pipe, etc.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


from ingeniousness of duck in .eluding enemies. [Heraldry: Halberts, 26]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. any of various small aquatic birds of the family Anatidae, typically having short legs, webbed feet, and a broad blunt bill: order Anseriformes
2. the female of such a bird, as opposed to the male (drake)
3. any other bird of the family Anatidae, including geese, and swans
4. Cricket a score of nothing by a batsman


a heavy cotton fabric of plain weave, used for clothing, tents, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


A duck is a very interesting bird and the message it conveys is generally positive. Ducks are well adapted to navigate and survive on land and in the water. They can swim, walk, and fly. Ducks are flexible and multi-talented. Dreaming about this bird suggests that you or someone else in your life is very flexible and can competently deal with emotional issues. Superstition-based dream interpretations say that ducks are very good omens and that you will “float” away from your current difficulty.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.