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Ducks Vs Geese Differences Explained

Ducks and geese are the same Anatidae species, but there are some major differences in these birds. They differ in size, weight, color, food preference, behaviors, and many more. 

Having that said, both of these birds have some things in common as well.

Whatever it is, this article is all about ducks vs geese comparison. Check it out to find some interesting facts about these birds. 

 

Take A Quick Look at The Differences between Ducks & Geese

Duck Geese
Ducks have a small & compact body Geese are bulkier than ducks
They have a short neck They have long necks
Compared to the geese, ducks have shorter legs Geese have long, thick legs
They have shorter wings Geese have longer wings than ducks
Male ducks usually have bright plumage They are black, grey, and white plumage
Ducks do not have a migrating mindset Geese are migratory birds
They are omnivores; hence they eat insects, small fishes, snails, and aquatic plants They are herbivorous and eat small grass, algae, etc.
Duck’s bill is long and wide Geese bills are pointy and short
Wild ducks look for new breeding partners each season They tend to stick to a single partner for a long time
Depending on the breed, ducks lay around 5 – 18 eggs in a month Wild geese lay anywhere between 2 – 7 eggs during the laying season
Duck eggs are small Geese eggs are bigger than duck eggs
Most ducks have a lifespan of 10 – 15 years. Wild geese can live up to 20 years
Ducks weigh around 2 – 5 pounds Geese are usually heavier than ducks and weigh around 15 – 20 pounds
Ducks have a friendly nature Geese are very aggressive, especially in mating or nesting season

 

Ducks Vs Geese – All The Differences Explained

In this section, we have discussed every difference between geese and ducks in detail. 

 

Appearance 

The easiest way to differentiate geese from ducks is by checking the color and appearance. Generally, ducks are very colorful. Their feathers are usually bright and have intricate patterns. Both the male and female ducks come with different color patterns.

Generally, male duck heads are brightly colored with either dark blue or green color. Most of the male ducks have jewel-tone colors on their head, which not only make them look attractive but also helps distract the predators. 

The head color also plays a crucial role in reproductive matters since female ducks are attracted to those colors. That being said, female ducks have dull colors on their heads.  

Geese, on the contrary, don’t have many variations of colors. They are usually in dull colors, which are definitely not as attractive as ducks. Both the male and female geese are in the same color.

Geese are often found in either black, grey, or white colors. Having that said, their feet come in different colors. Some geese have pink feet, some brown, and some even have orange-colored feet. 

 

Eating Habit

Geese are herbivores which means they are vegetarian. They are not very picky when it comes down to food. They eat almost all aquatic plants, small grass foliage, shrubs, etc. Some wild geese like to eat small insects as well. 

Ducks, on the other hand, are Omnivores meaning they eat everything. They enjoy plants, grass, snails, worms, fish, and insects; whatever they can fit in their bills. Snails and insects seem to be their favorite food.

There are 3 types of ducks that eat differently –

 

  • Dabbling ducks keep their tail and feet up in the water while putting their bills under the water, looking for food, and eating.
  • Sea ducks generally stay on the shores and look for fish in the shallow water.
  • Diving ducks dive into the water and catch their prey.

 

Mating & Breeding 

Duck and geese both are monogamous birds. The only difference is one is less monogamous, and another is more. Monogamy means sticking to one partner for a lifetime. 

And geese do stick to one mating partner for life. They are more like humans. They have attachments to their mating partners and don’t want to mate with another as long as the former partner is there.

Geese often suffer depression and loneliness when their partners die, and some get aggressive. That being said, once they have grieved the loss and got stable, they may find another partner and mate. 

On the other side, ducks aren’t like that! Compared to geese, ducks have very low attachments to their mating partners, which is why they keep changing their partners every season. 

Furthermore, after mating, the male duck doesn’t take any responsibility for the eggs or the ducklings. The female duck has to take care of everything. But that’s not the case with geese. 

Both male and female geese share equal responsibility. They take turns sitting on the eggs and taking care of the babies together. 

 

Weight 

Since geese are bulkier and longer than ducks, they weigh more. A wild duck weighs anywhere between 2 – 4 pounds, whereas wild geese can weigh up to 8 pounds. 

 

Size

The biggest difference between these two birds is their size. Ducks have compact and small bodies compared to geese. Their necks, as well as legs, are small and short. The average length of ducks is 15 – 20 inches. That is because they have fewer bones, less than 16 bones on the neck. 

On the other hand, geese’ necks have anywhere between 17 – 23 vertebrae, which is why they have longer necks and are heavier than ducks. Their legs are long and thick. And the average length of geese is 30 – 50 inches. However, the size of these birds varies from breed to breed. 

Both of these birds have webbed-type feet, which helps them swim better. 

 

Bill Shape

Even though geese are bigger in size, they have a smaller bill than ducks. Geese’s bill is short, slightly narrowed, and pointy. Probably that is why geese are vegetarians. And as mentioned before, ducks have a wider, flat, and long bill. 

Moreover, different duck breeds have slightly different bills. For example, Dabbling ducks’ bill is a little rounded, and the size is the same as their head. On the other hand, the canvas ducks bill is a little narrower.

Duck bills have a soft sensory edge, which enables them to feel the food by touch, exactly how we use our fingertips to feel things. Their bills have nails that help them move food. 

Another interesting thing is that duck bill has a thing called lamellate, which kind of works like a filter. They expel inedible foods using it.

There are variations of bills in geese as well, just like ducks. For example, Canada geese have a straight bill, whereas snow geese bills are slightly curved.

 

Vocal 

Geese and ducks make different sounds. While ducks make a “Quack” sound to communicate with others, geese make more like a “honk” sound. 

When migrating in groups and any of the geese fall behind the pack, others make honk sounds to motivate the lonely one to keep up. 

Compared to the geese, ducks are way too vocal. And unlike geese, they make noises very often. When they are nesting, they quack to let others know. Ducks make noise to let others know about their locations and to scare humans or other predators. 

They even make noise when they are lonely. In other words, ducks are more expressive than geese. 

 

Egg Production 

Ducks lay more eggs than geese. Even they lay more eggs than chickens. Moreover, they are year-round layers and very regular at producing eggs. Duck eggs are decent-sized and have a higher nutritional value. 

On the flip side, geese’ eggs are almost twice as big as ducks and three times bigger than chickens. Not only are they big, but their eggs also have higher nutritional value than ducks. And they are expensive as well. 

However, the only downside of geese is that they are not year-round layers like ducks or chickens. They are seasonal layers that start laying around May and stop before September. 

 

Lifespan

Compared to ducks, geese have a longer lifespan. They can live anywhere between 8 to 12 years, and ducks have a maximum lifespan of 3 – 8 years. However, captive ducks tend to live a little longer than that. 

One big reason why geese last longer than ducks is their size and aggressive behavior. Even goslings have a fighting nature! But ducks are small, and they end up getting caught by predators. Half of the ducklings don’t even live a year due to predators and other natural conditions. 

 

Behavior 

Ducks can be called social birds because they are friendly and grow with humans. On the other hand, geese are the complete opposite. Geese aren’t as friendly as ducks or chickens. They are always cautious of humans and keep an attacking mindset. 

Geese are called territorial birds, which means they like to stay uninterrupted in an area. In other words, they don’t like to share the space with anyone. And if any animal or human reaches their territory, they get aggressive. 

Apart from that, geese tend to attack humans more in the mating or nesting season. As you know, geese are protective about their mating partners, eggs, and babies. And during the mating seasons, they allow nothing to interrupt them. This aggressiveness is something that keeps wild geese alive for longer. 

 

Taste

Ducks eat both plants and meat, so their flesh is tender, which gives you a taste similar to any other poultry. And geese are herbivores, meaning they don’t eat meat. As a result, their meat contains high fat and is slightly darker. Geese meat gives a sweet taste and has a good flavor.

Geese vs duck meat, which one tastes the best? Well, it’s a never-ending debate. It is very hard to tell which meat is tastier since people have different tastes and different people cook differently.  

 

Is A Goose Or Duck A Better Pet?

Actually, both are good choices as a pet, depending on people’s preferences. If you’re someone who is fond of beauty, then probably duck is your thing as they come with colorful feathers compared to geese. 

Even though geese come in dull colors, still some people find them beautiful enough for their yards. 

And those who like slight aggressive birds, geese are a perfect fit for them. Apart from that, they also bring big nutrition-filled eggs to the table. 

 

Conclusion 

The major differences between ducks and geese are the size, behavior, mating, and lifespan. So, if you are thinking about having one of these, then this duck vs geese comparison should be enough to help you make a decision.

But to give you a heads up, geese are aggressive and lay fewer eggs than ducks. This is the reason why many people prefer ducks over geese. But if you personally like geese, then there is no harm in getting them. 

 

Read Also: 

Junco vs. Chickadee

Falcon Vs. Hawk

Falcon vs Eagle

 




 

By Nathan Moy

Hi, Nathan Moy is the founder and CEO of Birdmoy.com . Im passionate about nature and I use this site as a platform to share my experiences, learnings, mistakes, and ideas about birding and nature.

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