Ducks need dirt and like to flirt - a Ducks 101 lesson at PumpjackPiddlewick

Did you know ducks need dirt, or grit, to digest? No, I didn’t know either, until Maggie came into our lives.

The Dirt

Maggie’s water bowl used to be cleaned diligently and she, at every opportunity, would try to put dirt, sand, grit, gravel you name it back into the clean water. It became a sort of game, how quickly she or I could dirty or clean the bowl respectively.

And then I learned that ducks add dirt to water, or simply eat dirt when water is not around, as this acts as a sort of sandpaper in the stomach. It aids in breaking down the food for easier digestion.

Having a pet duck has enticed me to learn more about them. To research, understand, observe. There’s a lot more information out there on cats and dogs, but definitely less so on pet ducks.

My ‘go to’ place for duck research is Cornell University. They actually have an Ornithology Lab, where they study ducks, and other birds. They have done some really in-depth studies, particularly on mallards. Their information has proved very helpful, even though mostly based on ducks in the wild. It was where I learned about dirt, imprinting, duck language and more.

The Flirt

For example, did you know ducks like to flirt? Autumn is the time to start looking around the flock for a mate. (They do not mate for life, though they may choose the same partner season after season). This entails the female making a certain little stuccato sound and sort of side bobbing their head at the male they are attracted to. A bit like the hair flick women sometimes do in human life.

Watching Maggie, as an imprinted duck, I could see she did some things by nature and some by nurture. She liked to playfully flirt with me, especially if George was not about to see her. When George was in view, she flirted with him, telling me to ‘stay away’.

And then there are shoes, better yet toes. Maggie had a shoe fetish. When anyone came to visit, she had to check out their shoes. If it was summer and toes were on show, even better. Toes made her flirt. Our open toed guest got the full Maggie treatment of head bobbing and staccato trills. And the odd toe nibble if Maggie was quick enough. And this inevitably resulted in dirt between the toes. Hmmm, tasty.

More Duck Stuff

And should you be on the lookout for duck and other animal inspired gifts – you’ll find quite a few in my shops.

Simply click on an image to see more…

If you find my Duck 101 insights useful, or simply enjoy their stories, please consider nourishing my writings by joining me on Patreon.



    1. Thank you! I am always and still forever learning about ducks. It’s a whole new world… 🙂

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