How Long Do Ducks Live In The Wild?

How Long Do Ducks Live In The Wild?

Near ponds, lakes, and wetlands in your area, ducks are common birds. You may have seen that, similar to most birds, it can be challenging to determine the age of an adult duck. You may now be wondering how long ducks can survive in the wild.

A wild duck has a lifespan of five to ten years. The majority of ducklings pass away before they turn one years old. The lifespan of a duck is significantly influenced by its breed. Their survival is also influenced by other variables, including their diet, environment, and health.

Continue reading to learn more about the factors that determine the longevity of ducks.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about the difficulties that ducks encounter in order to survive. You’ll discover how to assist ducks live longer as well as the age disparities between species.

Let’s start now.

How long do ducks live in the wild?

Every species of duck has a different maximum life expectancy. Wild ducks have been known to live for over 30 years. The majority of wild ducks, however, only survive up to 10 years.

You might now be asking why these wild ducks’ life spans differ by such a wide margin. Since some ducks can live up to three times longer than others, this is true.

This stark discrepancy is primarily due to the fact that some ducks live in significantly better conditions than others. A duck might anticipate living a long and healthy life if their living conditions are ideal. If not, the duck is at risk of harm or ill health and is likely to pass away much sooner.

Ducklings are the most fragile stage of development for them. In reality, between 30 and 70 percent of newborn ducks perish during their first three months of existence.

Their survival rate slightly increases after the first three months. They can begin to fly, which is mostly why.

Let’s examine the variables that impact a duck’s lifespan.

Why do Ducks die?

Why do Ducks die?

1. Duck species

How long a duck will survive in the wild depends greatly on its species. The various living situations they are exposed to are the cause.

Let’s examine the typical ages of some of the most widespread duck species.

species of duckTypical Lifespana long lifespan
Mallard3 years10 years
Teal3 years18 years
shoveler in the north3 years22 years
arctic pintail3 years15 years
Gadwall4 years21 years
Typical Goldeneye6 years12 years
English Widgeon3 years34 years
Timber duck4 years15 years
Black American Duck4 years26 years

Medium-sized birds include ducks. They outlive smaller bird species like songbirds in terms of lifespan, but not as long as larger bird species like geese. This is because smaller birds have faster metabolisms and wear out more quickly.

Male and female duck survival rates are similar in most cases. Due to territorial aggressiveness, men typically die more frequently. During mating season, female ducks are more vulnerable to harm from aggressive males.

2. Lack of Food

Despite having a wide diet, ducks primarily consume aquatic plants and insects. Depending on what is available to them each season, their diet will adjust.

Finding enough food to eat might be challenging during the colder months. Foraging may be challenging for the ducks due to snow and frozen ground. Ducks will choose easier-to-access items like sedges, acorns, and grains during this season.

The majority of wild ducks migrate, thus they require enough food to travel great distances. They won’t be able to finish their voyage if they are unable to store enough fat from meals, either through tiredness or starvation.

Even if the ducks don’t migrate, they will still need to survive the winter and hunt in inclement weather. Without a consistent supply of food, they will go hungry.

Some ducks eat excessive amounts of bread and other low-quality food sources. Ducks can have a variety of issues when they eat excessive amounts of poorly nutrient-dense food. You can read my article on the eight reasons not to feed bread to ducks.

Later-born ducklings are particularly vulnerable during this time. Nearly from birth, ducklings must learn to fend for themselves. This means that because they are inexperienced foragers, they frequently perish from famine.

3. Predators

Given their high value as food, ducks have many natural predators in the wild. In the wild, their eggs and ducklings are most at risk.

Typical predators of ducks include:

  • Raccoons
  • Foxes
  • Bobcats
  • Coyotes
  • Hawks
  • Owls
  • Rats
  • Minks

Usually, the smaller animals will only steal the duck eggs if they are left undisturbed. The baby ducklings will yet also be attacked by larger prey birds.

Due of their frailty, mother ducks are very protective of their young. In fact, if they have the chance, the females will even kill stray ducklings from rival broods.

Larger creatures will consume the adult ducks and assault them. They offer these creatures a first-rate supply of nourishment. Ducks are a particularly easy target for these larger predators since they have very weak defenses. They are unable to really fight back.

4. Disease

Chances of survival for a duck are significantly influenced by its health. Ducks may become vulnerable as a result of illness or parasites, or they may even perish.

Diseases that ducks frequently contract include:

  • Duck virus hepatitis
  • Entente Virus in Ducks
  • New illness in ducks
  • poultry cholera
  • Aspergillosis
  • Colibacillosis

Ducks that are injured, hungry, old, or young are substantially more likely to get these diseases.

Ducks spend a lot of time around each other since they are particularly gregarious birds. They are susceptible to the rapid spread of contagious illnesses. Usually, parasites or their excrement easily spread between host ducks during transmission.

In contrast to domestic ducks, wild ducks do not have access to any medical care. A time of poor health for them can be fatal. Even if the illnesses don’t result in their death, they can be too frail and slow to avoid a predator assault.

5. Injury

Ducks are fairly intrepid creatures and will frequently stray far and wide in search of food. Overexploring may leave them worn out, lost, and more vulnerable to injury.

Ducks with injuries are unable to fly, hunt for food, or escape from predators. They can be more prone to getting an infection depending on the kind of injury.

When they are aggressive with other males, male ducks may be more likely to suffer injuries. During the mating season, internal injuries may be more common in females.

Human interaction may lead to other types of harm. This involves collisions with moving objects such as cars, boats, planes, windmills, and power lines.

Duck injuries can also result from hunting. If a pistol or a trap doesn’t kill them, the survivors may suffer fractured bones, internal injuries, or significant open wounds. According to statistics provided by the government, licensed hunters kill approximately 11 million ducks annually in the USA. Although genuine statistics are probably far higher than this because of unofficial kills.

Ducks may suffer harm while attempting to escape a predator attack. Ducks struggle to defend themselves, but if they’re lucky, they can fly away. However, by that time, predators with powerful jaws and claws can do a lot of harm.

6. Adverse Weather

Ducks can endure extremely cold winters, but only to a certain extent.

They employ a variety of strategies to stay warm. Using their feathers to create a warm, waterproof covering is one example of this. They can also restrict blood flow so that just their body, not their legs, remains heated.

Nevertheless, there are instances when the weather becomes too severe for the wild ducks to handle. Ducks cannot tolerate the temperature if it drops below 20 degrees. They may experience permanent cold damage or possibly pass away from exposure-related freezing.

Ducks may experience stress from other types of harsh weather, which may hinder their ability to locate food or habitat. This covers natural disasters like wildfires, cyclones, tornadoes, and severe storms.

7. Migratory Behaviour

Many duck species migrate frequently. At specific seasons of the year, they will migrate up to 800 miles to their wintering and breeding locations. They are able to escape the dangers of living in a chilly environment while simultaneously improving the chances of survival for their offspring.

Every species of duck has its own migration paths. Some will take longer and be more dangerous.

Ducks are at risk during their migrations. To go hundreds of miles in the air takes a lot of energy. They must therefore be physically ready. A duck that is ill, malnourished, or injured might not be able to meet those needs.

Unknown terrain, predators, and scouting out potential food sources are further risks associated with migrations. Particularly the ducks doing it for the first time can become susceptible while doing it in a new setting.

How to help Ducks to live longer

The capacity of a duck to survive can be significantly impacted by us as humans. The good news is that there are a few ways you may reduce your impact on the neighborhood ducks by being aware of your own actions.

Let’s examine four methods for extending the lives of ducks.

How long do ducks live in the wild?

1. Offer Suitable Food

It’s a lot of fun to feed ducks. Yet stale white bread is the most frequent food supplied to ducks. They should not choose that at all.

Ducks fed bread are stuffed with poorly nutrient-dense food. Poor health and physical deformities may result from that.

Given that ducks are wild animals, it is still up for debate as to whether you should feed them at all. They can readily and successfully forage for themselves.

If you still feel the urge to feed the neighborhood ducks, consider using high-quality birdseed or mealworms in place of the stale bread.

2. Tidy Up Outdoors

Make sure to pick up after yourself when you visit a park in your neighborhood with ducks around.

This includes anything like rubbish, sporting goods, balloons, or toys. Ducks are very curious animals and will likely try to eat almost anything they see.

That could result in them getting hurt when exploring the grassy area, or they might even end up choking on something.

3. Deter humanly

If you have a pool in your yard, wild ducks can be a little bit of a nuisance. They might try to make it into a pond and build a house close by.

In accordance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, ducks are a protected species. You cannot hurt them, their eggs, or their nests as a result.

However, you can take action to frighten them into awareness without doing long-term damage. As a result, the ducks decide to nest elsewhere since they see the region as hazardous.

Ducks can be discouraged from settling in your yard by using easy scare techniques like motion-activated sprinklers, automatic pool cleaners, or even phony birds of prey.

4. Find a rehabber

The best thing to do if you find a sick, orphaned, or injured duck or duckling is to call a wildlife rehabber.

They will have recommendations for you on what to do. They might be able to give the duck some treatment and then let it go back into the wild.

Avoid attempting to trap the duck yourself; instead, leave it where it is, keep an eye on it, and let the rehabber know where it is. You might endanger the duck’s safety if you don’t.

Related questions

Can a duck live 20 years?

Ducks can live for more than 20 years. Some species have been reported to live for over 30 years, depending on the species.

This information was gathered from banded birds that ornithologists carefully observed. In 1996, a banded widgeon lived to be 34 years and 7 months old.

However, it’s unusual to live to this old age. It is undoubtedly conceivable for a wild duck to survive for 30 years if the correct conditions are there. This entails having access to shelter, a safe meal, and predator defense.

Final Thoughts

Wild ducks normally live between five and ten years. Due to the significant number of duckling deaths, the average ages have decreased.

The duck will live as long as possible if it has optimum living conditions. Understanding a habitat will aid in foraging, migration, and predator awareness.

Other difficulties including illness, harm, and human meddling can also affect how long the ducks live.

Keeping our influence as humans to a minimum can significantly contribute to the success of local duck populations.


What are the 3 types of ducks?

Based on their distinctive behaviors, ducks are typically grouped into three broad groups: diving ducks, perching ducks, and dabbling (shallow-water) ducks. One of the most common game birds is the mallard, a common dabbling duck (any of roughly 38 species of Anas and about 5 species in other genera).

Do ducks need a companion?

Ducks need to be with at least one other person. Ducks require company because they are social animals. A solitary duck could technically be kept, but it wouldn’t be content. A human is still a long way from a true duck friend, even if you can spend all your time with it and it never needs to be alone.

Do ducks need a friend to survive?

Never keep one duck alone; they need to be with others. Always keep two ducks, preferably best friends, so they can explore the backyard together. Ducks eat mostly plants in their natural diet, with 10% of their food made up of animals including snails, slugs, and larvae.

Do ducks get lonely?

A duck should not be left alone or in a cage for an extended amount of time since they experience loneliness, isolation, and loss in a manner similar to humans. A single duck should never be kept; it’s cruel. Ducks require other ducks to live with them since they are very sociable creatures.


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Sarah Green

Wildlife and Nature Fan & Author