Where Do Ducks Go in the Winter?

Where Do Ducks Go in the Winter

Most ducks will stay in their summer nesting ground during the winterand stay there. Some, however, will migrate to warmer areas.

Ducks typically just wait it out. They can sleep on the water or land. Pretty much, ducks are adaptable animals. Some of them even swim in cold water and walk on ice.

What Happens To The Ducks When The Pond Freezes Over?

Many ducks stay on the pond even when it freezes over. Some may fly to warmer areas and then only come back once the weather conditions are optimal. 

There are many places to find ducks still swimming even if some parts of the pond have frozen. But how do ducks manage to stand on the ice and even swim in cold water?

When ducks go to the water, they land with their feet first. When they stand on ice, they do not freeze because of the way their blood circulates.

The feet of ducks do not have a layer of fat. Their feet also do not have feathers to protect them from the extreme cold.

What happens is that there is an exchange of cold blood and warm blood. The cold blood from their feet goes to the heart, and the warm blood from the heart goes to the feet.

Because of this, the blood flow regulates temperature. They have enough oxygen to keep them warm and safe, and it is why they do not get frostbite.

Do Ducks Hibernate?

No, ducks do not hibernate. They stay active during the winter. Some will stay in their habitat and go about their daily business. Some may migrate to warmer places.

Where Do Mallard Ducks Go In The Winter?

During the winter, mallards migrate south. They stay on the coastal fringes, where the conditions are not that cold.

Despite migrating, ducks do not keep still. They still load because they need to store energy for the trip back home. Once the winter is over, the spring migration begins.

During the spring migration, ducks will go back to their breeding grounds. They will find a mate, and the mating season begins.

If the area has enough food supply, the ducks may not leave at all. However, when it is too cold, there is little left to eat. Because of this, the ducks have to migrate.

From this behavior, researchers concur that ducks do not migrate because it is cold. Instead, they migrate because there is food scarcity.

Do Ducks Die Out in The Cold?

No, ducks do die of cold, but the ducklings are susceptible. Ducklings are sensitive to extreme temperatures.

Ducks have feathers that provide insulation, but only on hot days. If the feather gets wet, they cannot insulate the ducks.

In addition, ducklings do not have the same adult contour feathers. Because of this, ducks can die of hypothermia.

During cold and rainy days, ducks may also experience shortage of food. So, given these two factors, they can die of extreme cold temperatures or starvation.

In some areas, ducks die because of hailstorms. In 1953, about 148,000 waterfowl died because of a hailstorm in Canada.

So, what does this mean? It means that ducks are not impervious to cold. They can die of extreme cold. Adults, however, have better chances of survival.

Now, the survival of the species depends on the success of nesting. Because of these, ducks would rather travel to the south in the winter and only prepare for breeding in spring. By the time the next winter arrives, the ducklings have grown into adult ones.

Do Migrating Ducks Return To The Same Place Every Year?

Some ducks have the ability to return to the same location every year. Specifically, they return to the place where they nested the previous year.

On some occasions, some ducks may return to the same place during winter—a place that is more conducive to them when it is cold.

Some ducks have a homing instinct. It refers to the ability of a bird to find the same spot if it wants to. However, homing rates vary between species of waterfowl.

Not all ducks, even of the same species, will go back to the same spot. For example, a diving duck called the canvasback does not always return to the same spot during a particular year. Only three-quarters of adults do it.

Duck FAQs

Where Do Ducks Go At Night?

Ducks find a good and quiet place to sleep at night. They find shelter and roost in habitats where they are safe.

During the day, ducks like to loaf around. They stretch, eat, and also preen themselves. What many people do not realize is that ducks also like to sleep during the day. 

Ducks do not sleep exclusively at night. Some of them take daytime naps. The way they sleep depends on where they are.

Those that have ducks as pets or poultry will observe that during the daytime, some ducks would nap just beside the pond. 

How Long Does A Duck Take to Mature?

It takes only thirty days for a duck to mature. Ducks grow quickly. Those who own ducks must know that if a duck is domesticated, it cannot fend for itself in the wild.

A domesticated duck does not know how to hunt for food. It depends on its owners to give it food and clean water. Domesticated ducks must never be let loose in the wild, or they will perish.

In the wild, these ducks can take care of themselves. After hatching, they would grow into strong ducks capable of flying south when winter comes. Some may stay—it all depends on how cold it is.


Ducks do not disappear in the winter. In many areas, they stay where they are and even go on the ice. Usually, these ducks find shelter from the cold.

Some ducks migrate south where it is warmer. They would stay in that location until the beginning of spring, after which they would come back to their breeding grounds to find a mate.

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