Teenage ducklings are very similar to human teenagers. Except they can fly. Let's delve into the teenage time of ducks at PumpjackPiddlewick

Ducklings grow like a weeds, in other words – fast. And it’s not long before they are teenagers. And like human teenagers, they go through growing pains. Teenage ducklings often mirror their human counterpart. It’s just a speeded up version. (Maybe a good excuse to have ducks?)

As with most young teenagers, life is so very tiring. I often find the ducklings sitting and simply watching the world move around them. Or more often, asleep. They sleep a lot. I guess it is all those sudden bursts of activity. They wear a teenager out.

The Voice

Did you know that like teenage boys, tweenie ducklings voices change too? At 5 weeks old teenage ducklings little peep peeps start to alter and we begin to be able to tell the boys from the girls. It will take a few weeks and it will depend on the duck variety how quickly you can tell males and females apart, but by 8 weeks you can tell what is what.

Boys change first, and their sound starts to become raspier, quieter (sort of). The girls, well their change isn’t so dramatic, but rather – louder. As their peeps deepen, it gives them more volume. My goodness does it ever!

I have had dwarf mallards and have call ducks (actually the smallest type of mallard, but all white). Call ducks are so named because the girls have a particularly loud quack. And I can attest to that. The boy call ducks on the other hand have a very quiet raspy quack. (And something to keep in mind if you live in an urban environment.)

Fledging

As ducklings become fully fledged teenagers they go through something called fledging. (Yes, that is where the term fully-fledged comes from.) Typically it starts at about 6 weeks. This is when they exchange their duckling down for their duck feathers. It’s a painful process as the feathers grow they pierce the skin, coming through in calcium tubes. Growing pains, if you will.

The duckling then spends all their time, when not sleeping, pulling out the down and then breaking up the tubes, bit by bit. Finally a little feather is revealed. It’s a rather messy process, as all these calcium bits are strewn about. And a long process as they have to do each feather, one at a time. No wonder they like to rest in between.

Growth Spurts

Teenage ducklings also go through body changes. First it’s the feet. Like their human counterpart, their feet get too big for their bodies. But it is also the duck bill. Suddenly it looks a bit too large for the face. The bill is also changing colour, from a dark brown to a beige if its a mallard, orange to yellow if a call duck.

It won’t take long for the body to catch up to the feet, as they grow so fast. But until then, this is very definitely the ‘ugly duck’ phase. (Think unkempt, unwashed teenager and you got the idea.)

Testing their wings

And like human teenagers, they start to test their wings. Only in this case it is literal. Their wings have been forming, from barely there to full length. They start testing them and strengthening them, flapping about a lot.

First it’s a hop. And the look of surprise when they do it for the first time is comical, if you are lucky enough to spot it. Then one hop becomes a higher hop. And before you know it they are trying out little short flights, up or down something.

They don’t rush into flying as ducks are not natural flyers. Take off and landing are always an issue. And especially teenage ducklings. You can relate it to learning how to drive. There are nerves and swerves. And often crashes. You will have to decide soon if you wish to clip their wings, as a teenage duckling airborne may struggle to find their way back to you. (Read more on that in Understanding Duck Boundaries, including how to clip their wings.)

And Suddenly

And so very quickly, they are adults. Well, more or less. Just like humans they have to find their personalities, their interests and become comfortable in themselves. Usually by 10 weeks technically you can call them adults. But truly it takes a little longer than that.

Ducks have this sort of in between time. When they are independent of Mom, but not yet interested in the opposite sex. Typically that takes another 3 months or so. Autumn is when they start to look around with interest in finding a mate. In the meantime, well, they act still like typical teenagers. Enjoy!

More Ducks?

If you are interested in keeping ducks, or simply wish to know more, I have a whole series of writings on these feathered cuties in my Duck 101 – Learn About Ducks, from birth to death and everything in between.

If my writings are helpful, please consider supporting and Nourishing Pumpjack & Piddlewick.

If you love ducks, I also offer up a selection of duck items in My Shop. Here’s a taste:

Simply click on an image to see more.

2024-05-13

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