Why Do Ducks Wag Their Tails

Tail-wagging is an activity usually associated with dogs. But what does it mean when ducks wag their tails?

Why do Ducks Wag their Tails

Ducks have been loved for many reasons.

They are one of the most widely spread birds in almost every environment.

Their tail-wagging can be a lovely sight, but there is more to it.

Ducks may be communicating many things with their tail.

When Do Ducks Wag Their Tails?

Pets and domestic animals communicate differently, and ducks are no exception.

Like a dog tail-wag, ducks can also wag their tails in excitement.

Here is a list of situations when you can see ducks wag their tails:

1. When Excited

Many things can excite a duck, resulting in tail wagging.

One of the apparent causes of excitement is food.

After a duck has been well-fed, it becomes excited, causing it to perform the tail-wagging ritual.

When ducks have a nice drink, you can also see them wag their tails.

When ducks are in a good mood, they may wag their tails.

The presence or sighting of a friendly or familiar face also excites a duck.

This is especially true when it is the person that feeds the duck.

Friendly duck species like the Muscovy and Perkins are usually known for wagging their tails as a positive gesture.

They do this also when they are generally happy and in good moods.

Wild ducks also wag their tails when they find rest from a stressful situation.

It could be an escape from a predator or environmental threat.

They also wag their tails to cool off the stress and relax.

2. During Mating

Mating in ducks is a process that involves coupling.

The female duck will select a male that will be its mate for that breeding season.

The onus then lies with the male to impress the female of his choice.

This is common practice with the birds where the male seeks to woo a female for mating.

In its bid to woo a female, the male duck may be seen wagging its tail coupled with other mating-specific behaviors.

Some of these mating behaviors are wing flapping, preening and head pumping.

Tail wagging may also be seen in females during the breeding season.

But it is mainly observed in males trying to attract a female partner.

Tail-wagging may not be the sole indicator of readiness for mating in ducks because other mating behaviors accompany it when a male duck woos a female.

The mating season in ducks is usually around spring and early summer in the wild.

Domesticated ducks may breed throughout the year, but the breeding season depends on the specific species.

For some domestic duck species, the tail wagging and other mating behaviors may continue throughout the year because the mating is not as seasonal as in the wild.

3. When Keeping Themselves Dry

Ducks are waterfowl, and they spend a considerable amount of time swimming.

Therefore, they must get wet not just because they love the swimming experience but for their preen glands.

The preen glands, usually called Uropygial glands, are oil-producing glands found in most birds.

They are essential for keeping the duck’s feathers waterproof.

The duck needs to get wet to keep these glands from drying up.

If dried up, the duck might develop a ‘wet feather’ condition where the feathers are no longer waterproof.

Reasons Ducks Wag their Tails

As important as getting wet is for the duck, it does not always remain wet.

After a swimming session, the duck often wags its tail to dry its body.

Wagging of the tail also expresses satisfaction and enjoyment after a nice swim.

This is similar to how a dog wags its tail after a bath to enhance its drying.

A duck shakes off excess water droplets from its body by repeatedly wagging its tail to fasten the drying process of the moisture off its feathers.

4. While Walking

Waddling is a walking style with short steps and a clumsy swaying motion.

This is how ducks walk, mainly because of their size and body shape.

The clumsy swaying of its body can throw the duck’s weight over, and there may be a need for a balancing motion.

That’s why this movement can be accompanied by tail wagging.

To keep its balance when walking, a duck wags its tail.

As the duck waddles, its body will keep shifting from side to side for balance.

The tail wagging helps the duck to counterbalance the body shifting and keep it balanced while walking.

However, this may not apply to all duck species.

Indian runners, for instance, do not waddle.

Ducks Communicate Too

Pets and domestic animals have been loved for their ways of communicating.

Ducks communicate, too, that is what we have seen with them wagging their tails.

Tail wagging in ducks can be a normal process of maintaining balance while walking or a body drying mechanism.

But there is more to it!

Ducks also communicate their excitement and happiness by wagging their tails.

They sometimes wag their tails when they appreciate their owners or after a good meal or drink.

Tail wagging can also be attributed to a feeling of accomplishment in ducks.

After going through a challenging task, probably jumping over a platform, you may see your duck wag its tail!