What is The Difference Between a Duck and a Goose

Is that a duck or a goose, how do you tell the difference?


Both are considered waterfowl, they love to have water to swim in, and often use it to get their food wet. While some seem to have a greater need for water than others (for example the Muscovy Duck is often kept without a pond), of more a puzzle is how to know which is which?


As we look at these basics I will point out that there are exceptions to every rule.


Ducks tend to eat slugs, snails, insects, and so forth, and are often used to control ticks.

Geese prefer grains and grasses and are often used for weed control.

The down of a Duck will often have more of a smell to it than Goose down (soft underfeathers).

Geese (the plural of Goose) tend to be larger than ducks, with most having longer necks in perspective to their body than ducks.

Geese tend to be more apt to challenge a human, and sometimes are kept as guard animals.

Ducks (particularly the males) tend to be more colorful than geese, and often male ducks exhibit different colors than female ducks (except when moulting or young).

Geese often have more webbing on their feet than a duck.

Geese tend to migrate further than ducks.

A Call Duck with her Ducklings. 

An African Goose Gander.


Duck and Geese Facts

Young Ducks are called Ducklings, young geese are called Gosling’s.

Female Ducks are called hens, Female Geese are called dames, or “goose”.

Male Ducks are called Drakes, Male Geese are called Ganders.

Pilgrim Geese are interesting among geese, because the males are off-white, and the females are gray.

Ducks and Geese do not have teeth as we know them, but the inside of their bill has serrated edges.

Both female ducks, and female geese can lay eggs without males, but their eggs will not be fertilized and will not hatch.

Typically if a male is present she will lay a clutch of eggs before she starts to sit on them, after which they may hatch out anywhere from 25-35 days later (depending on the species of bird).

While both can be kept as pets some require permits and in most areas it is illegal to keep wild geese or ducks as pets.

Links of Interest

Pet Call Ducks

Pet Pigeons

Pet Chickens

The Birds and the Bees – how they “Do It”

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10 Responses to “What is The Difference Between a Duck and a Goose”
  1. Starpisces Says...

    On August 3, 2010 at 7:49 am

    very good article, thanks for telling us the differences. All the while I thought the difference is duck’s neck is shorter, and goose’s neck is longer….

  2. Likha Says...

    On August 3, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I thought about it the same way as starpisces. Thanks for taking time to find out the difference. This is added info.

  3. papaleng Says...

    On August 3, 2010 at 10:35 am

    nice article that is very helpful.

  4. Jewelstar Says...

    On August 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    well, this is an interesting topic. I love to see the ducks walk. tooo cute.

  5. K64FUNNY Says...

    On August 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    fine and fresh article,i like it
    topic from ornithology is interesting.well written informative fine post

  6. Anuradha Ramkumar Says...

    On August 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Nice share. I always have this doubt and you cleared it.

  7. hans Says...

    On August 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    ducks quack ! ever heard of a goose doing that ?
    just a simple observation,,,,,

  8. helene Says...

    On April 27, 2012 at 7:34 am

    as much as i find all comments facinating i still have not solved my query as a muscovy duck is the same size as a goose and therefore am still puzzled by the distinction of the difference that defines one from the other

  9. andrea Says...

    On September 10, 2012 at 2:54 am

    thank you!

  10. Halei Says...

    On March 13, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Helene those ducks are a different species of duck, it’s an omnivore but searches for snail unlike geese which are vegetarian. http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/2000/archives/2000/roadtests/birds/muscovy

    a few years late I just realised

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