Are Ducks Nocturnal? (Why Are They Active At Night?)

Ducks are domesticated birds, though there are many species that live in the wild. We often come across the question are ducks nocturnal? In this article, we’ll find the right answer to this question taking into account the habitat of ducks and the size and the number of ducks, their territories, and other things. 

Are ducks nocturnal? Though by nature ducks love to spend the nights quietly, when they have to share the waterfront and other such places with other birds, they may have no other option but to turn nocturnal. 

RELATED: 33 Duck Questions Answered (The Ultimate Duck FAQ)

We often believe that the marsh around our homes or in woods and forests falls silent after sunset. However, if you try to sleep in a duck boat, with dozens of ducks around you, you may understand that ducks could be nocturnal birds. You can easily come across ducks whistling overhead coupled clucking of coots and also the noise made by migrating geese and other species of ducks. Hence, it is apparent that ducks, after all, could be nocturnal. 

Why do ducks tend to become nocturnal? 

This is one of the most common questions that come to the minds of many people. There have been many instances where people have moved away from a marsh quite late in the day. When they moved out, on many occasions not a single duck was to be found in sight.

However, in the early morning or even just before the break of dawn, if they revisited the same place, they often came across scores of ducks and some other birds too. So we may wonder what could be the reason for the marshes and other wetlands to be totally calm during sunset and why do they often become so active and so noisy during late nights. There ought to be some reasons for this and we are happy to find out the same. 

RELATED: All Your Duck Food Questions – Answered (70+ Foods Examined)

Local movements & migrations 

According to researchers and those who study birds and ducks in particular, believe that there are many reasons for increased noise and activity in marshes where ducks live, breed and grow. One of the most important reasons for nocturnal ducks could be because of local migrations and movements. 

Studies have clearly indicated that the migratory movement of ducks tends to be intensive shortly after the sun sets. They also tend to peak during the middle of the night and slowly decline thereafter. This is not only practice with ducks but many birds are also into this habit.

This obviously leads to a significant increase in the movement of ducks, waterfowls, geese, and other such animals during the night. This also could explain the reason why a marsh could be totally free from ducks one afternoon.

RELATED: Are Ducks Mammals, Amphibians, or Birds? 

Weather patterns may also have a role to play 

Duck watchers also believe that there could be one more reason for their nocturnal habits. If the weather is cold and foggy, ducks prefer to hunt during the day, especially during the late afternoons. They prefer spending the night quietly and try to keep themselves as warm as possible.

On the other side, if the weather is clear and night is moonlit they like to be active and this could explain their nocturnal habits. They are always restless because they are under constant threat from falcons and hawks.

Hence, if weather permits, they may like to stay awake during the night and get more food for themselves and their families, apart from indulging in mating and finding out ways to increase the size of their clan. The low tide could also be a reason for ducks to stay awake during the nights.

RELATED: Can Ducks Eat Celery? (And Should They?)

Quite often the low tides happen during the night and when the river or waterfront retreats, it leaves behind plenty of food that ducks use to feed themselves and also provide the right amount of food for the little ones. 

Roosting and loafing 

Like all birds, ducks also love loafing, and if the weather so permits, they would not mind staying awake during the night. They are also known to use the nighttime to perform some common comfort and maintenance movements. They love stretching and preening and a clear night with good weather may offer them the right opportunity for this. 

Feeding the little ones 

Yes, given a choice, ducks would like to feed their young ones during the daytime. However, because of threats from other birds and animals, many of them often prefer to feed their little ones during the night. It perhaps makes it easier for them to look for food and they may be able to cover a much larger area in search of food for the little ones.