What is a Call Duck?

Steve R.
Steve R.
Call ducks have a long history in the Netherlands.
Call ducks have a long history in the Netherlands.

A call duck is the smallest of the domestic waterfowl. The duck typically weighs 1.5 pounds (about 680 grams), with the males weighing more than females. The duck is known for its high and loud quack and curious nature. Call ducks are bred primarily for show and can also be kept as pets.

An ancestor of the mallard, a call duck comes in a variety of colors including apricot, blue, silver, and fawn. The call duck has a small body, approximately 1 inch (about 3 centimeters) in length. The fowl also owns a round, stocky body, a round head, and tiny legs.

During the 1600s, the call ducks were used in Holland to help hunters catch their prey. Hunters would place the ducks near the openings of their traps traps. The unique quacking of the call duck would lure wild fowl, which were then slaughtered by the hunters. The ducks were often referred to as decoy ducks. Their name originated from the Dutch word for trap.

While the ducks have a long standing history in Holland, the fowl is believed to have originated in the East Indies or Japan. The original species was gray, resembling a mallard. The call duck was introduced in the United Kingdom in the 1850s and brought to the United States around the early 1900s.

In January or February, the duck begins laying eggs. Each year, a female will lay anywhere from 30 to 75 eggs. Eggs are generally light blue or white in appearance. Ducklings take about three weeks to hatch.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the ducks became popular with breeders. The birds are popularly exhibited at shows. The British Waterfowl Association can annually have as many as 300 ducks at a show. Popular breeds include the white call and the gray call.

Characteristics prized by breeders include size, shape, and color. Breeders seek to rear ducks with the smallest torso possible and with wide bills. According to some breeding standards, breeders often seek to have the color of the bill match the color of the head. Integrating bloodlines of different species of call ducks can boost the number of ducklings born annually.

Their friendly demeanor makes call ducks good pets, and they are considered easy to care for. As pets, the ducks require water and pellet feed, which can be purchased online, from a breeder, or at various pet stores. The ducks also eat grass, dandelions, and insects.

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    • Call ducks have a long history in the Netherlands.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      Call ducks have a long history in the Netherlands.