Are Ducks Cold-Blooded? (What’s The Difference?)

You may have learned that some animals are cold blooded, while others are warm blooded. Where do ducks fall in this?  

Are ducks cold-blooded? Ducks are not cold-blooded! Instead, they are warm-blooded, just like all other birds. They can regulate their internal temperature just like we do and a bird’s body temperature usually stays at a constant 106 degrees (which is higher than ours).  

Find out more about ducks in our 33 Duck Questions Answered (The Ultimate Duck FAQ)

What is the difference between cold-blooded and warm-blooded? 

Cold-blooded animals cannot regulate their own body temperature and instead, their temperature varies with the temperature in their environment. Because of this, cold-blooded animals cannot live in areas that have extreme weather conditions (that is why there are way more snakes in the rainforests by the equator than in the Arctic regions).  

On the other hand, warm-blooded animals can regulate their internal temperature and they have a consistent body temperature. These animals can survive at any temperature and they can adapt to temperature changes easier. 

Reptiles, fish, amphibians, and insects are all cold-blooded animals, while birds and mammals are all warm-blooded animals.  

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How do ducks stay warm in the cold months? 

Ducks on ice
Ducks on ice

Ducks, like geese, are members of the waterfowl family, so these birds spend a lot of time in cold water and even on ice in the brisk winter months. How do they keep warm?

It is essential for ducks to be able to keep their legs and feet warm when they are in cold water. What makes them unique is that they have a special vascular system that makes all the arteries and veins closer together. This allows the ducks to be able to warm their feet quickly (and cool them down quickly in the hot summer). 

This works by the warm blood being pumped from the heart to the arteries by the veins in the feet which is bringing the oxygenated blood back to the heart. This causes a concurrent heat exchange. This specific type of heat exchange occurs in some other animals, such as squirrels, who spend some time in the snow during the winter. Plus, this exact science is also behind how fish exchange oxygen from their gills. 

Another way that ducks stay warm is they will grow a winter plumage, which is extra warm feathers to keep the bird’s body warm.  

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Do ducks migrate in the winter? 

You may have seen some birds, such as flocks of geese, flying south for the winter in order to go to a place that is warmer. But do ducks do that as well?

There are many different types of ducks and some species of ducks do in fact migrate every winter to somewhere warmer. The reason that some ducks migrate is not just to go to a warmer climate. Some ducks also migrate in order to breed (they do not want their eggs to freeze in the cold) and others migrate because it is harder to find food in the north in the winter.  

How do ducks know to migrate? 

Ducks, and all animals, are born with instincts. Instincts are feelings that innate. These instincts tell ducks to do things like migrate, how to fly, and how to get food. These instincts will also tell ducks where exactly to migrate to.

Even scientists are unsure how exactly they know where to go, but it has been found that ducks will return to the same place year after year and the next generation of ducks will go to the same place too! 

READ ALSO: Why Do Ducks Wag Their Tails? (What Excites Them)

Do ducks fly in a V formation? 

Flying ducks
Flying ducks

Ducks do fly in a V! And the reasons they do this is pretty interesting. One reason that ducks (and other birds) fly in a V is that it helps them to conserve their energy. In the V formation, each bird is flying slightly above the bird in front of them, which leads to a resistance of the wind.

This is also beneficial because each duck takes turns flying in the front and when they get tired, they fall to the back. This allows the ducks to be able to fly for a longer time without having to stop and rest.  

The V shape also makes it easy for the ducks to be able to keep track of each other. This formation helps with the flock of ducks communication and coordination.