It is not uncommon to mistake goose for ducks. Among many other similarities, both birds share the traditional webbed feet and flat bills waterfowls are known for. These birds tend to travel together in flocks, with clusters commonly found around lakes, streams, ponds, and rivers. But even in the face of so much shared between them, are geese the same as ducks?
Goose are different from ducks. Goose are majorly distinguished from ducks based on the number of neck bones. Specifically, gooe have a neck bone count ranging between 17-24 bones. Ducks, on the other hand, have at most 16 neck bones. Consequently, a goose’s neck is significantly longer than that of a duck. Also, goose are generally bigger than ducks, with higher set bills.
There is so much the goose and the duck share, and yet there is so much that differentiates them. How can you tell a goose from a duck by its feet, color, or egg size? Will goose eat duck food? Can a duck and goose crossbreed? Also, can duck hatch goose eggs? These are some of the exciting questions we will answer in this guide.
What are Goose?
Goose are believed to have originated from the subclade bird family some 20 million years ago. They are pretty sizable, with dominant populations spread across North America, Europe, and Asia. The goose’s most distinguishable feature is its neck.
They are herbivores, with a knack for water plants. Sporadically, they can tap into carnivorous dishes like fish and bits of insect. Furnished with strong wings, gooe are known to migrate long distances in search of warmer climes.
When in collective flights, goose instinctively form a V shape. This is critical in overcoming air friction, increasing their air resilience, and ultimately lengthening their flight range.
Goose are commonly preyed upon by the likes of bears, wolves, and foxes. Regardless, goose rely on aggression to defend themselves from intruders or threats.
Aside from vigorously flapping their wings to scare off such intruders, they also make distinct “ahonkahonk” calls to put off such undesired elements. This explains why goose are commonly deployed as watch animals. Their loud yells can tell you there is a new body on your property.
What are Ducks?
Just like swan and goose, ducks belong to the Anatidae waterfowl family. Aquatic and keen water lovers, their natural habitat ranges from sea to freshwater. Widespread, you will see ducks in just every continent except Antarctica.
Ducks are not as big as goose, with a typically elongated body shape. They share the long necks of goose, albeit the latter’s being longer.
Generally, ducks are divided into dabbling and diving ducks. The sea ducks fall into the diving duck category. As you can readily infer from the name, diving ducks can dive significant depths underwater, say in the hunt for food. Such diving ducks are commonly called scaups.
Dabbling ducks are not equipped for such deep diving. They naturally prefer shallower water bodies, dipping not too far underwater for their food like insects and plants.
Overall, ducks are decked with strong wings, which are relatively short. These sturdy wings are extremely helpful in achieving fast strokes, particularly need in long migrations. Such trips are not uncommon in winter.
9 Differences Between Ducks and Goose
Despite belonging to the Anatidae waterfowl family and sharing a swathe of similarities, a goose differs from a duck in several aspects. I will tell you about these differences.
The neck is the strongest differentiator between the goose and the duck. Compared to ducks, geese have longer necks.
Such increased necks can be mainly attributed to the higher neck vertebrae in goose compared to ducks. Typically, a goose can have as many as 23 bones in the neck, while ducks don’t have more than 16.
Goose are clearly bigger than ducks. Ducks have shorter legs than goose, with the latter having a more elongated body. Compared to goose, ducks have shorter bodies.
The species of the goose largely determines which lives longer between the goose and the duck. The margin in a goose and duck’s lifespan is more pronounced in the Canada goose.
While the Mallard goose lives around 5-10 years, the Canada goose lives up to 24 years. Generally, ducks have a lifespan of 10-15 years.
There is not much separating a duck from a goose when it comes to feet. As typical of waterfowls, both geese and ducks have webbed feet. The only exception here is the Hawaiian nene goose.
Both birds have palmate feet. In this foot adaptation, the hallux (which is the hind toe) is smaller and upended from the front three toes, fitted with webs.
Goose differ from duck based on coloring. While ducks are no distinct color, goose tend to be either black, grey, or white. Unlike ducks, goose could also have spots.
The iridescence of this coloring also differentiates both beds. Ducks tend to have more vibrant and colorful plumage. Such radiance is more pronounced in male ducks than female ducks. But there is no such difference in goose other than the size gap between a male and female goose.
Regarding temperament, goose are more aggressive than ducks. Much of such aggression stems from a parental instinct to fend off their chicks from intruders. It is not uncommon for a goose to attack, clatter at you, and even bite you if you come too close to their nests.
While not fatal, goose bites are admittedly painful. These birds have honed their craft in inflicting agony by holding on to the target and twisting their head to cause a cut or bruise.
However, goose get more civil and friendlier when you start feeding them. Ducks are far more docile than goose. Unlike the ardently territorial goose, ducks prefer communities, commonly existing in clusters.
The lack of individualism in ducks can be traced to their need to their enhance chances of survival as a collective. It is rare to see a duck wandering significant distances from its flock. Flockmates watch out for themselves, especially the ducklings in their units.
Goose barely exist in massive flocks. They are okay with smaller units of two, provided a pecking order is firmly established to prevent clashes.
Egg Size and Frequency
Here is another way to tell a goose from a duck. A wild duck can lay anywhere from 5-18 eggs at once. It is different in geese which lay about 2-7 eggs at a time.
The typical female duck lays around 5-12 eggs in her nest, depending on sunlight availability. These eggs would hatch in about four weeks.
The goose and the duck are “faithful” birds that breed with one partner at a time. The difference in their monogamous nature is that while the duck chooses one sole partner for each breeding season (typically yearly), the goose can commit to one breeding partner for several years.
Compared to a duck, a goose’s bill differs. Such structural difference is demonstrated in the goose having higher set bills, commonly situated at the crown of the goose’s head.
These bills are shorter in ducks, with the nostrils coming lower. A duck’s bill rarely gets as high as the duck’s eye. Such bills are situated in the lower region of the duck’s face and are usually flatter.
Will Goose Eat Duck Eggs?
Naturally, it is scarce to see goose eating duck eggs. They can tramples on the eggs, however. Especially when such eggs are within the territory such goose asserts a claim to. Also, goose attack and harass ducks, but not in a predatory capacity.
Can Goose Eat Duck Food?
Both waterfowls are fanatic about aquatic plants. However, what separates them is the goose is largely “vegetarian” in that they eat only plants.
Ducks have a more extensive diet. They are omnivores, and aside from their consumption with aquatic plants, yet venture into meals of fishes and insects.
When bred domestically, goose can yet thrive on duck feed. But there are some crucial things to keep in mind when feeding these folks.
Compared to ducks, a goose’s gizzard boasts more grinding power. Goose’s digestive tracts have evolved over than to process foods with higher fiber content quicker.
However, if the goose could tell you, it prefers plant roots and leaves over the regular filter feeder. Their sharper and narrower beaks supply them with more penetrative force, allowing goose to pierce through plant parts better than ducks.
Can a Duck and a Goose Cross Breed?
While it is a standard operating procedure to breed just any goose species with another (and similarly for ducks), less is yet known about crossbreeding a goose and duck.
This doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a goose mating a duck or a duck mating a goose. But upon such mating exercise, the fertilization of the emerging eggs is largely improbable.
Preferentially, goose and ducks will mate within their sect, even with similarly sized partners.
Can Ducks Hatch Goose Eggs?
A duck can hatch eggs laid by goose. Getting a goose to hatch its eggs can come at a steep price, considering that these birds don’t lay on their eggs.
Muscovy ducks can be great in this regard. These birds can simulate the natural incubation conditions. It is important for the Muscovy bird designated for such hatching assignment to be already broody. Turkeys can still do the hatching job efficiently.