Waterfowl: Facts about These Lovely Birds

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Waterfowl are birds characterised by rehabilitation and physical characteristics that allow them to swim and dive for long distances. These birds can swim and fly together. Some of them depend on their ability to swim only.

Waterfowl are among the most beautiful creatures on earth. These waterfowl enhance and increase the beauty of the seashores and attract tourists to enjoy these marine areas’ beauty and tranquillity. Pelicans, puffins, penguins, and others are some of the most beautiful waterfowl commonly seen on the seashores.

Waterfowl are birds with specific physical characteristics that qualify them to swim and dive in the water and live in rivers, lakes and swamps. Some of them can fly, while others can only walk and swim. They have many types that exceed 140 species, including ducks and geese.

Waterfowl feathers are covered with a fatty substance that prevents water from reaching their bodies and protects them from getting wet. Also, a rubber skin membrane connects their toes to help them swim.

Waterfowl Facts for Kids
Waterfowl from the duck family

Waterfowl General Features

Waterfowl birds have many characteristics, the most important of which are:

  1. They have streamlined body shapes.
  2. They reproduce by eggs.
  3. Their bodies are covered with feathers. These feathers vary according to the type of bird and the environment in which it lives.
  4. They have two wings with which they can fly, except for ostriches, penguins that use their wings for swimming, and many other species.
  5. They have a beak, which differs in sharpness and shape according to the type of bird and its diet.
  6. They are characterised by having two legs and four toes, but these legs differ in length and strength according to the type of bird. Waterfowl have long and slender legs equipped with skin membranes so that they can swim, and species have legs that help them dig up the ground and search for food.
  7. They shed their feathers once a year, by moulting, either in summer, fall or after the breeding season.
  8. Most waterfowl are monogamous, i.e., one male partner stays with them for life, including multiple marriages, and types that change their partner every season or stay with them for several years.
  9. Most waterfowl live in nests. These nests vary in size and shape according to the size of the bird and its environment.

Waterfowl Famous Types

Here are some of the famous types of waterfowl:

  1. Penguins

It is a waterfowl that lives in cold and salty waters and cannot fly due to its size compared to other birds. This bird does not have wings, but it has fins that facilitate swimming and feeds on fish.

The penguin is a species of waterfowl that lives mainly in the southern hemisphere, as it is a short bird with a stocky body, a height of 35 cm, and a weight of 1 kg for the blue penguin, while the emperor penguin is 115 cm long and weighs between 25–40 kg. Their black top and white bottom usually characterise them.

2. Phalaropes

Phalaropes are among the most beautiful waterfowl in the world. These waterfowl are known for their unusual feeding behaviour. Phalaropes have short, slender beaks that capture aquatic creatures while swimming on the water’s surface. Phalaropes are found in Utah and California.

3. Curlews

Curlews are among the giant wading birds in Europe and one of the most beautiful water birds in the world. Curlews have narrow, long, curved beaks to search for worms in the water depths inside the mud. They are winter birds found on muddy coasts and estuaries. Most of these water birds are found in coastal regions of England.

4. Water chickens

Water chicken bird is similar to ducks in some of their characteristics. Some studies confirm their extinction due to the scarcity of its kind.

5. Avocets

Avocet is a waterfowl, or rather one of the most beautiful waterfowl in the world, which has a long, thin and curved beak, which it uses to comb the water from one side to the other to filter food from the water, and the avocet searches for its food in shallow wat. There are different Flying jokes in Australia, Central Asia, Europe, and North America.

6. Canada geese

Geese are characterised by mixed black and grey feathers. They are very similar to ducks. The origins of geese go back to North America, as there are seven species of them divided into two main categories, which are identical in the colour of feathers, and the males are larger than the females.

Waterfowl of the type of geese are distinguished by their beauty, as they are found in various kinds, including white-headed geese, Brant geese, and chatty geese, in addition to emperor geese, white-fronted geese, and snow geese.

7. Pelicans

It is a waterfowl of considerable size, and it is closer to the white colour with a large orange beak that makes it easy for them to catch and feed on fish. Pelicans are found in eight species on almost all of earth’s continents except Antarctica.

Pelicans use huge beaks for hunting and catching fish and other marine animals. The American white pelican is classified as one of the very popular waterfowl in North America and one of the most beautiful in the United States and Canada.

There are many types of pelicans, which are considered the most famous types of waterfowl, and the most common ones are mentioned below:

  • Black-necked pelicans

The black-necked pelican is known for its white body, black head and neck, grey beak, and red handle near the base of the beak. It is worth mentioning that both sexes are pretty similar, except that the male is larger than the female.

  • Black pelicans

The black pelican is distinguished by its utterly black plumage and a veil of white on its wings. It also has a red beak, a tip and a white stripe, and two black-grey legs. The sexes are similar, except the male is slightly larger with a straighter beak.

  • Mute pelicans

The mute pelican is white, with a bit of orange-yellowish on its head. It also has a reddish-orange beak with a black tip and black legs and feet.

  • Trumpeting pelicans

The trumpeting pelican appears visible in the colour of its black beak extending to the front of the eye and its white feathers, in addition to the visible pink line.

8. Storks

This bird is characterised by the ability to swim and fly, as it has long legs that enable it to hunt fish, mice and young snakes.

9. Puffins

These birds are characterised by their stunning beauty and colour consistency, and they give birth to only one young, and they live close to the Pacific Ocean.

10. Turnstones

They are birds with tiny, thick beaks that turn stones and wood in search of their daily sustenance and food. These birds live in coastal areas.

11. Ducks

Ducks are among the common types of waterfowl, divided into several categories according to their behaviour in the water. Here is an explanation of this:

  • Mallard ducks

Mallard ducks are among the common waterfowl living in shallow waters, such as swamps or flooded fields. They are distinguished for feeding on the water’s surface instead of diving and seeking. They fly mostly to migrate instead of roaming on the water’s surface, in addition to its attractive colours.

There are many types of waterfowl for the kind of mallard ducks, including the American black duck, the American duck, the blue-winged teal duck, the Cinnamon teal, the sway duck, the green-winged duck, the mallard duck, in addition to the mottled duck, And the northern bulbul ducks, and the northern shovelling ducks, and the wood ducks or wood ducks.

  • Plunger ducks

Dipping ducks are among the types of water birds called waterfowl because they prefer to stay in the water constantly. In addition, they dive in it frequently in search of food, unlike pond birds, and the types of these birds are the black scooter duck and the golden-eyed duck.

In addition to the plunger ducks of the type of king eider, scoop duck, long-tailed duck, red-breasted duck, red-headed duck, long-necked duck, spectacled duck, Steller’s eider duck, surf scooter duck, white-winged scooter duck, downy-headed duck, Canvasback ducks, common eider ducks, in addition to the common egret, harlequin ducks, and the hooded egret.

Is egret a waterfowl?

Some people wonder whether an egret bird is a water bird or a wild bird, which needs to be clarified.

Egret lives in warm countries near farms, but it also lives near water, as it is one of the orders of pelicans that feed on fish and tiny frogs. Egret contributes, among other birds, such as the hoopoe, to cleaning the environment. Therefore, some recent laws were issued to prevent hunting, especially since it is not edible.

Do birds swim in the water?

There are two types of birds, including wild ones and aquatic ones. Wild ones live on land, feed on it and fly between their grounds. As for marine birds, they cover the sea, river and lakes and are close to them, providing from their hollows. Due to its physical characteristics and unique ability, swimming and diving into the depths of rivers and lakes have become easy.

Waterfowl represent more than 140 species of ducks, geese and swans, most of which live in specific environments characterised by fresh water and wet swamps, from the fast-flying kingfisher to the long-legged egret. Returning to this question, many birds can swim in the water, including swans, ducks, shamans, and penguins.

Are there waterfowl that cannot fly?

Waterfowl have many types, some of which can fly and swim. Some of them are sufficient for one ability without the other, and this is not a defect in it, but instead, it is due to the physical characteristics that distinguish it from others.

Undoubtedly, water birds, by their nature, live in water and take it as their home and feed on what is in it of fish, algae and small animals. Then they are attached to it and cannot fly away from it due to their physiological and physical characteristics. Among these birds that cannot fly are chickens, penguins, ducks, Canadian geese, and cassowaries.

Migratory waterfowl

Some believe that the migration of birds depends more on the ability to fly, which is limited to flying wild birds, which needs to be clarified. There may be some degree of truth in it, but it is noted that migration does not have to be from one environment to another or from one country to another, as it may occur internally migration.

  • Wild ducks: are classified among the birds that migrate from time to time in search of suitable opportunities for food and obtaining meat, and they migrate in the winter and head towards hot or relatively warm places.
  • Water chickens: are waterfowl that live on the banks of streams and migrate in different seasons.
  • Spring geese.
  • Corundum birds.
  • Lunar birds.

Waterfowl Characteristics

Waterfowl are distinguished from others by some characteristics that outweigh their advantage in the skill of swimming. Each bird and organism generally have specific characteristics and features that give it the ability to adapt to the environment in which it grew up. Among the essential elements that distinguish waterfowl that can swim are:

1.         The feathers do not get wet with water due to the presence of an oily gland near the tail, which prevents the feathers from getting wet, and helps them float and swim.

2.         The boat shape of waterfowl enables them to swim with great skill.

3.         The ability to resist cold water due to the fat percentage in its body.

4.         They have immunity against deadly diseases.

5.         They have short legs and enjoy a leather membrane similar to oars.

6.         they feed on weeds available in swimming areas.

7.         Their legs are located at the lower end of the body, which helps them to propel their body quickly while swimming.

Waterfowl are among the most beautiful creatures on earth. These waterfowl enhance and increase the beauty of the seashores and attract tourists to enjoy these marine areas’ beauty. They are some of the most beautiful birds commonly seen on the seashores.

If you are interested in more bird-related topics, you may also like to read about Doves, Pigeons, and Crows.

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