Do Ducks Like Humans?
Do They Show Emotions Or Affection?

Ducks are moody birds; however, they can be very friendly and playful if in a good mood. Keep reading to learn more about ducks.

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David A. Swanson

July 11, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

Whenever people talk about owning a pet, ducks are usually the last option. This could be a lack of awareness of the fact that ducks are misunderstood as arrogant birds. However, ducks can be friendly and playful.

Like dogs, cats, and other pets, even ducks like being pet and held by their owners, Female ducks are comparatively more aggressive than male ducks. However, since male ducks are calmer, they like to be petted more than female ducks.

Ducks do show emotions, and they have an unusual habit of showing affection known as imprinting. This imprinting process allows them to understand where they are safer and, hence, attach themselves to the personalities they find protective. For instance, they show affection towards their mother or owners.


Ducks and the Process of Imprinting

Ducks imprint on someone whom they spend their first few hours with after hatching. This could be their mother, father, or even a human.

Imprinting is a common habit amongst animals. They do so to gain a sense of identification and protectiveness. In the case of birds, they do not have any idea of what they are when they hatch; hence visual imprinting on their parents helps them identify their species.


Likewise, ducklings form a bond of affection and love with their parents through imprinting. For example, once the ducklings can speak, they recognize and reply to their mother’s voice. Once the ducks are sure of a protective person around them, ducks follow them around and nibble on their toes or fingers.

Can Imprinting Affect Your Duck?

How a duck reacts to specific events in its environment depends upon the imprinting process. The possible effect imprinting can have on a duck is:

  • If a duck imprints on its mother, it is most likely to act more protective around ducks than humans, showing little to no affection towards humans.

Since the kind of bond ducks create with a particular creature during imprinting is unbreakable, it is essential to consider that if you are willing to own a duck, make sure you spend the first few hours after hatching with the duck to make it feel comfortable around your presence. 

Ducks and Human


Ducklings tend to have a deep bond with whom they have a close relationship. This close relationship could either be with a parent duck or even a human. Although ducklings share a strong bond with their parents, any duck raised by humans will look forward to human love and attention only.

The loyalty of ducks could also be linked to that of a dog. Ducks recognize their owners. They show love and affection to their caretakers or owners in the form of cuddling or wanting to be petted.

On the other hand, about ducks not liking humans; if a duckling did not have any human interaction from an early age, it is more likely to bond only with ducks. However, love can be administered in a duck. But how? Well;

  1. If they connect with different species and not just ducks
  2. If they are shown photographs of ducks playing with humans or other animals

Ducks are loveable birds, and they crave attention in any form, which could either be from another duck, another animal, or even a human.

How to Tell Whether a Duck Likes You or Not?


If we look at different stories about ducks — or any animal and their interaction with humans, they can communicate basic things. Two of the most common emotions any animal can express include likes and dislikes.

For instance, not being bitten by a duck means it likes you and is comfortable around. Similarly, a soft noise also would signify that they like your presence while on the contrary, annoying growls would signify that they do not like you. 

When ducks like humans,  they tend to do the following:

  1. They follow you around.
  2. They make soft, pleasant quack sounds.
  3. They want to cuddle.
  4. They would nibble on your toes or fingers.

When they dislike you, they tend to do the following:

  1. Nipping with the beak.
  2. They would make unpleasant quacks.
  3. They would make hissing sounds.
  4. They would continuously flap their wings.

How Do Ducks Show Affection?


Now that we know about imprinting and that ducks are capable of love, let’s talk about how they show affection.

Following You Around

One of the most expected shows of affection by ducks is ‘following you around’.

This happens when the duck spends most of its time around you after hatching. They would follow you everywhere and anywhere. In the case of mother ducks, you can see ducklings marching behind their mother in a straight line as a show of love and affection.

Nibbling On Your Toes And Fingers

Another very common way of ducks showing affection is through nibbling on their owner’s or caretaker’s hands and feet.

According to duck owners and caretakers, nibbling on your hands and feet is a duck’s way of thanking you for feeding and taking care of them. They also say that nibbling is one of the cutest gestures by a duck.

Making Soft Quack Noises To Grab Your Attention

Well, we can look at this from a typical daily life example. Just how when a human child needs attention, he or she cries. Ducks, too, quack when they want your attention. They will make soft quack sounds continuously in front of you to get your attention.

Cuddling With You

Another common way of showing affection by ducks is cuddling. Cuddling is a very usual way of expressing love and appreciation. Of course, every animal and human loves to cuddle. However, a duck’s way of doing so is a little different.

They love to cuddle up, make themselves warm, snuggle, and doze off. Since ducks are used to sleeping in groups, they would generally snuggle and sleep while cuddling you.

If this happens with you, know that your duck loves you!

Ducks: Social and Anti-Social


Once the ducks go through their imprinting process, they get too attached, and the bond is unbreakable.

Socially Active Ducks

Ducks are playful and social birds. They love the attention of their imprinted fellow. The bond ducks have is very strong.

For example, when a flock of ducklings grows together, their bond will be unbreakable regardless of their parent’s species. The reason being that they have played together since the time they hatched and have stayed in the same flock.

Anti-Social Ducks

Likewise, a duck that has spent its life around humans since it hatched will not recognize or allow any duck interaction or encounter in life.

How To Bond With Your Duck?

By following the steps mentioned below can help you bond with your duck:

  1. Talk to them
  2. Give them their favorite treats
  3. Sing to them
  4. Provide enrichment toys
  5. Give them their own space (build a house for them)

Do Ducks Like To Be Petted?


Female ducks are the aggressive ones, while the male ducks (drakes) are calm and quiet. Drakes like to be petted. A female duck can misunderstand your petting with you trying to harm her eggs and can attack you otherwise.

However, drakes like to be petted.

Where Do Ducks Like To Be Petted?

Ducks enjoy being petted all over their body. You can pet a duck anywhere, and they also enjoy being tickled. You can tell if a duck enjoys petting if they let you rub for a long time.

Commonly, most ducks like to be petted around:

  1. Under their lower mandible
  2. Around their mouth
  3. Top of their mouth, near the ‘V’
  4. Around their back area
  5. Between their feathers
  6. Around their necks - They love it when someone scratches their neck

Is A Duck’s Biting A Way Of Showing Affection?

Well, this can be looked at in two ways.

Scenario A would be a duck biting another duck. For example, if a drake bites a female duck, that is flirting. Grinding is their way of showing love and affection.

Scenario B would be a duck biting a human. No, this by no means is flirting or showing affection. Ducks bite humans when they feel threatened or hurt. It is a duck’s way of displaying an aggressive attitude.

By nature, ducks are friendly birds. However, a duck usually bites a human when:

  1. They are hungry.
  2. They feel dirty.
  3. They see a strange face.


How to Tell If A Duck Is Happy?

As we know by now, ducks are playful and friendly birds. This means that they tend to feel emotions. Hence yes, ducks do get happy.

Usually, when a duck is happy, it would quack continuously, chatter, and jiggle its head. So if your duck jiggles a lot, know that it is happy.

But what makes the duck happy?

Well, primarily ducks get happy when:

  1. They see their owner.
  2. They see their parents.
  3. They see a remembered face after a long time.
  4. When they get a deep, clean water source to bathe in.
  5. When they are given their favorite foods or treats.

Can Ducks Remember A Face?

Along with being friendly and social, ducks are also very intelligent birds.

Once a duck has imprinted on you, it will remember you and show love and affection. If a duck follows you even after meeting you after a long time, it means the duck recognizes you and loves you.

According to duck owners and caretakers, ducks do remember faces. They say that ducks would immediately recognize your face and chatter continuously while following you until they get your attention.

Ducks And Hugs

As mentioned earlier, ducks are very playful and friendly birds. And yes, they do like hugs.

Once a duck has imprinted on you, they will not only recognize you but will also love when you hug them and cuddle with them. Ducks love attention and affection. They enjoy being loved and held by you.

Can You Get A Duck To Trust You?

Well, this is a tricky part. Getting a duck to trust you could be a little challenging. But worry not, we have got you covered.

Here are a few tips on how you can get a duck to trust you:

  1. Petting: Ducks love to be petted. If you want your duck to trust you, pat them daily. This will not only create a bond of love between the two of you, but it will also build a relationship of trust.
  2. Cuddling: Another thing ducks adore is cuddling. Pick them up and hug them regularly. Once they start to get comfortable, they would snuggle and doze off. This is a sign of ducks trusting you.
  3. Feeding: Who doesn’t like food? Well, if you want your duck to trust you, give it good treats. They love bananas, raisins, and grapes.

Can A Duck Be Disciplined?


Yes, ducks are capable of learning if taught so. If you want to discipline your duck, use the method of operant learning, i.e., rewards if good and punishment if bad.

You can use different favorite treats to reward your duck if it performs the way you asked. This way, every time you order for a particular action, they will happily perform it. Instill in them that if they behave good, they will get rewards, and if wrong, they get nothing.

Fun Facts About Ducks


Now that we know that ducks can feel emotions, let’s read up on some fun facts associated to ducks.

  • They run fast. Some ducks can run fast. For example, ducks from Southeast Asia are known for their speed. They inhabited the fast running habit by running to match up the pace of their human herder.

  • With age, ducks turn white. This part does not include ducks who are white from birth. However, dark-colored ducks turn white as they age. Their feathers develop little white patches with age. Once they reach a certain age, they turn entirely white.

did you know?

Ducks are omnivores.

  • Waterfowl. Funnily, ducks are known as waterfowl because of the literal word meaning. Since they love staying in deep clean water sources, they are known as waterfowl.
  • Eggs. Weird fact, but a duck’s eggs production is affected by the sunlight. So the more sunlight, the better will be the production.

If you want to notice ducks closely and learn more about them and enjoy your time around them, then you can consider purchasing the Purina duck feed

Purina | Nutritionally Complete Duck Feed for All Life-Stages | 5 Pound (5 lb.)

100% complete daily nutrition Purina Duck Feed Pellets are balanced and complete, specifically formulated to meet the requirements for growing and mature ducks.

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Which Is The Friendliest Duck?


All the ducks are known for their playful and friendly nature. However, a duck named Pekin wins the race among the most friendliest species of ducks.

Pekins are beautiful white birds known for their amiable nature. They are white ducks with yellow feet and dark blue eyes. They originated from Beijing, China. If you are in their good books, they will always like you. This means unlimited snuggles and cuddles for you.

Pekins make wonderful pets as they are comparatively calmer than the other duck species.

Keep Reading!

Ducks are known for their playful, social, and intelligent nature. Although they are not thought of as good pets, however, the experience of petting them can be wonderful. Ducks are capable of showing emotions and affection. They can love, hate, and even feel bad.

If you own a duck, make sure you spend the first few hours after it has hatched with the duck. This helps create a lifelong, unbreakable bond. Moreover, ducks love attention. If you want to bond with your duck, spend time with them and talk to them.

Are you interested in reading more about ducks? Read this weird fact about them and their gender. 

Can Ducks Change Gender? It's Even Weirder Than That!

Curious about how ducks change their gender? Is it even true at all? Continue reading to find out more about this weird fact.

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By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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