Quacking Ducks: What causes quacking?

Frequent quacking ducks can be very noisy especially when living in an urban setting. But do you really as yourself why do ducks quack?

Animals produce an array of sounds when communicating with one another or us. Just like elephants trumpets, cocks crow, monkeys gibber and humans talk, your friendliest duck breeds will quack.

All these sounds and signs are meant to convey a certain message. So, when you hear your ducks quacking there must be a reason.

In this article, I am going to tell you why it is common to hear those sounds ducks make. This will help you know why ducks quack.

Lets roll

What is quacking in ducks?

Quacking is the sound or a cry that is produced or made by a duck. Commonly many people often associate quacking with female mallard ducks because they are often heard producing their quack sounds.

The sound that ducks produce is determined by certain reasons. They are:

1 Age

Young ducks or ducklings will produce soft whistling sounds. Whistling is a soft sound that is common when ducklings are calling the mother. They also make this distress whistle sound when they are lost or stuck between water plants.

Adult ducks will produce strong quacking sounds that are different depending on a number of reasons. They will bark when there is anything stuck in their throats and growl whenever they are hungry.

2 Situation

When in danger, ducks will be heard producing strident sounds signaling that there is a predator lurking nearby. These quacks are very necessary because they help alert other ducks to run for safety.

During the mating season, male ducks make a rattling noise as they rub their bills on the feathers followed by several dance moves. They do this trying to lure and convince females to mate.

When suddenly frightened, ducks will produce loud quacks as they flee by either running or flying in the air. This is common when duck predators suddenly strike unnoticed or when loud bang sounds are produced by either lighting, motor engines and explosives.

Additionally, when sick, ducks will produce growl quacks signalling discomfort and pain. These webbed birds will also produce certain quacking sounds when they are calling their brood.

3 Gender

Male ducks or drakes will produce different sounds from that of females. When I was watching different species of Florida ducks, I noticed male mallards had different sounds with females. Female mallards could produce a series of calls but the males rarely did.

4 Age

Old ducks will rarely open their bills and make any quacks. Young ducks will often make loud quacks because they are often competing for nesting spaces or fighting for females.

Baby ducklings will constantly produce soft whistles as they call the mother or when expressing hunger, cold or loneliness.

In most cases, duck sounds will be made by female ducks and baby ducklings. Monogamous ducks will often call their partners when they feel lonely especially during the mating season.

Baby Cayuga ducks will often stray away from the brood when feeding near the pond. Stray ducklings are likely going to get stuck between water plants and they will make distress calls to the mother for rescue.

What causes quacking in ducks?

You will hear quacking ducks often when they are triggered to open their mouths by some reason. When they are comfortable, ducks will rarely quack. So why do they do it?

During courtship

When the mating season is on, ducks are restless and male ducks become aggressive towards each other as they fight over females.

This ritual turns males into movie actors as they make different sweet and soft repeated calls. They will also do several dance moves in the water trying to orchestrate the ladies for a chance to mate. Have you ever seen ducks mating?

When defending a female, a drake will make a loud growl trying to fend of rivals. This can be followed by pecking and even serious bruises.

When alarmed?

When enemy or danger strikes, ducks will make constant loud calls signaling potential threat. Even your pet ducks will make strange sounds when an enemy gets close especially at night.

These distress calls helps warn other ducks nearby to hide or flee for safety. Most duck predators are birds of prey, possums and nocturnal animals like coyotes.

Additionally, snakes and other small animals like arctic foxes will raid the nesting areas to eat eggs and the baby ducks.


When lonely, a duck will make sounds trying to call others. This mainly happens when the bird is separated from the flock when feeding, fleeing from predators or when migrating especially at night or when the weather is foggy.

Isolation is mostly as a result of predators that prey on these birds for food. These calls are meant to try and locate where other ducks are who responds after hearing a lonely colleague calling.

In addition to that, loneliness can be as a result of monogamous ducks who stick to one breeding partner for life. When one partner dies as a result of ill health, poaching or predation, the other is left quacking trying to find out where he or she is.

When begging for food

Hungry ducks are often heard growling, a sound they produce when begging for food. This is very common with domestic ducks like Muscovy who produce this sound when hungry and need something to eat.

When expressing stress

When faced by stress, ducks will produce different sounds. This happens when they are sick, or after successfully evading a predator.

Fending off intruders

Ducks quacking sound is very common when intruders encroach on a ducks territory. Nesting female ducks are very aggressive towards intruders especially other laying ducks that come to look for a suitable place to lay.

When ducks have baby ducks or ducklings, they can be very fierce and duck quacking is a signal that a fight can break out any moment soon.

These birds will also produce the quacking sound when they are trying to fend off predators like foxes and hawks. They produce a very loud quacking that tells others her life is in danger. Quacking sound will also be produced when competing for duck food like fish and others.

What are the different ducks sounds?

Ducks will produce an array of sounds depending on some certain factors. These sounds may include:

  • Whistles
  • Barks
  • Purrs
  • Squeaks
  • Sighs
  • Hisses
  • Growls
  • Coos
  • Chatters

When do ducks start quacking?

At the age of 6 weeks old, ducks will start to quack. Females will make a soft quack like sound while the young males will have a different quack that is somewhat heavy. Many will think that the young males have a throat problem at this time.

When they start to quack, many birders are now able to sex these birds by listening to their sounds. At this time, the teenage ducks will now start to exhibit male or female physical characteristics.

The young drakes will start to peck at the females and will be seen on the lead when walking together. Females will act naïve and cowardly and when feeding they will try to stay away from males.

Final Thoughts on Quacking Ducks

Quacking is the sound produced by ducks. Different duck breeds will produce different quacks for a number of reasons. Male and female ducks will produce different sounds with most males being more quiet.

If your ducks are constantly quacking, go to their pen and check on them. Maybe they are in danger, hungry or even cold and are calling because they need your attention.

Do your ducks quack and why do they do it. Talk to me on the comment section.

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