Ducks, geese and swans are a large species of birds that range in size from the very small to some of the largest. They have adapted well to living on and around water with flat bills and webbed, leathery feet, and their feathers are excellent at repelling water. Their wings are short and pointed with strong muscles that beat rapidly in flight. They tend to have short, strong legs set far back on their body which can make some species awkward on land.
They are found all over the world on every continent in a range of wetland habitats except the open ocean. They eat mainly plant material although some species will supplement their diet with fish, molluscs, and aquatic arthropods.
Many ducks, geese and swans display sexual dimorphism with the male having colourful plumage while the female is dull brown. They are generally monogamous and most species have evolved to copulate on the water. They will construct their nests from whatever materials are close at hand and will line them with down plucked from the mother’s breast. Chicks are precocial and can feed themselves soon after birth.
There are 174 species of ducks, geese, and swans worldwide, 59 of which are found in the UK.
Species marked with a are occasional visitors.