Call Duck: Breed Profile, Traits, Pictures & More

Group of Call ducks in a farm

The Call duck is among the most charming and distinctive of waterfowl species. Of course, with its petite frame and expressive quacks, it can’t help but draw attention.

In addition, Call ducks being smaller than most other duck breeds means they’re easier to manage in a backyard environment. They are also very sociable, which makes them fun pets for just about any family.

In this article, you’ll get a complete rundown of what to know before adding Call ducks to your flock, including their personality traits, overall appearance, care requirements, prices, and more. Let’s begin!

Call Duck Breed Overview

Scientific Name:Anas platyrhynchos domesticus
Purpose:As pets, ornamental
Origin:The Netherlands
Size:10–14 in
Weight:Drakes: 19–25 oz (1.19–1.56 lbs);
Hens: 15–20 oz (0.94–1.25 lbs)
Lifespan:4–10 years
Diet:Small fish, fish eggs, grains, aquatic plants, insects, algae, and freshwater crustaceans
Egg Production:25–150 eggs per year
Temperament:Social, intelligent, sweet, active, vocal, and playful
Price Range:$5–$70

What Is a Call Duck?

Call duck side view

A Call duck is the tiniest among domestic ducks, which traces its roots back to Mallards. Once a hunter’s tool for luring wild duck breeds, Call ducks have since transformed into beloved ornamental and companion pets. Further, they are renowned for their affectionate and social nature.

Call ducks, regarded for their vibrant colors and amiable personalities, are perfect for families. These birds enjoy being handled, which makes them a hit with children.

In addition, these ducks are highly trainable. They are incredibly smart and quick learners. In fact, they can learn to do tricks like responding to their names, begging, and catching a treat.

Hence, while not champions in productivity, Call ducks shine as delightful pets and ornamental additions.

However, potential owners should note that these birds’ calls, notably from females, are strikingly loud, which is a relic from their hunting days.

Call Duck Origin and History

Call ducks hail from the Netherlands. They are also believed to be descendants of Mallards. Then, by the mid-18th century, they made their way to Great Britain.

In Britain, these ducks gained popularity not just for their appearance but also for their distinctive, piercing call. This unique trait led them to be used primarily as decoys to attract wild ducks.

Consequently, they weren’t initially named Call ducks but rather as Decoy or “Coy” ducks.

Fast forward to the 1870s, their presence expanded to the United States. The American Poultry Association (APA) even gave them a nod of recognition.

Are Call Ducks Still Used for Hunting?

Call duck with wings outstreched

Historically, Call ducks served as decoys to lure wild ducks for hunting. This practice, however, is now prohibited by law.

In modern times, these loud ducks have shifted roles. They are now cherished mainly for their ornamental beauty and as delightful companions.

Call Duck Appearance and Colors

Call duck in its nest

Call ducks bear a striking resemblance to Mallards in terms of appearance. They have rounded faces, large dark eyes, as well as beaks and necks that are both short in length.

What’s more, most people recognize these birds in white or apricot, but they come in many colors. The following list features some of these hues:

  • Blue fawn: Blue fawn Call ducks boast a harmonious mix of soft blue and fawn shades, which makes them appear grayish overall.
  • Black: Considered extremely rare, black Call ducks possess a deep, rich black shade that’s quite striking.
  • Mallard: Similar to the wild Mallards, mallard-pigmented Call ducks have a blend of green, brown, and white tints on their feathers.
  • Pied: Pied Call ducks are known for displaying a mix of two colors, typically white combined with another shade.
  • Bibbed: Bibbed Call ducks are predominantly dark-colored but with white markings around the neck.
  • Silver: Silver is another hue that Call ducks are available in. These birds have a grayish-white base with dark gray markings on their face, head, and wings.
  • Buff: Buff Call ducks are particularly special because their plumage retains a warm, tan color reminiscent of wheat fields.

Watch the following video to see Call ducks of various colors as they start to fly for the day:

Call Ducks Flying Off For The Day

Wrapping up their look, Call ducks possess small, plump, and oval-shaped bodies. Further, they stand on short, light orange-tinted legs that end in tiny webbed feet.

Call Duck Size and Weight

Call ducks belong to the bantam breed, known for their smaller stature than other duck varieties. Standing at 10 to 14 inches, these fowls are compact yet sturdy.

Regarding weight, drakes, or male Call ducks, range from 1.19 to 1.56 pounds. On the other hand, hens, the females, have a slightly lighter weight bracket, which falls between 0.94 and 1.25 pounds.

Yet, despite this slight difference in weight between genders, both are still equally easily manageable. In other words, this breed generally fits any backyard or homestead nicely.

Call Duck Temperament and Behavior

Call duck looking for food

Call ducks are notably social creatures. They mingle well with different duck species and even chickens. This trait makes them versatile additions to varied poultry settings.

Moreover, they are not just friendly but also highly clever. As a matter of fact, with the proper guidance, they can be trained to perform tricks. Their intelligence is often a pleasant surprise to many duck enthusiasts.

My colleague once raised a few pairs of Call ducks. She’d also often mention how they’d seek her out for cuddles and pats.

Their sweet nature truly made them stand out from her other fowls. In fact, they were even admired by her kids because of their active and playful personalities.

However, she has given a word of caution, especially for those who like a quiet environment: the hens of this species can be pretty vocal. They make loud quacking sounds when excited, frightened, or seeking attention.

Call Duck Egg Production

When considering Call ducks for egg production, certain factors need acknowledgment.

Firstly, they aren’t the top choice for small-scale farming. Their annual egg yield ranges from a mere 25 to 150 eggs, which might disappoint those seeking abundant production.

Moreover, as these female ducks grow older, there’s a significant decline in their egg output. This pushes most Call duck owners to buy more hens to boost numbers.

On a brighter note, though, Call hens truly stand out in terms of motherhood. They are incredibly broody and will sit on eggs with great care and devotion until they hatch their young, often for a stretch of up to 28 days.

Call Duck Care Guide

Call duck drinking water

If you are thinking of keeping Call ducks as pets, it is essential to know that this is a big responsibility. You will need to consider their health, how they are fed, and how they will be housed.

The following is an overview of what you should know before deciding to own these birds:

Lifespan and Health

Call ducks typically live between 4 and 10 years. Yet, like all animals, they have specific health concerns that potential and current owners should be aware of. Below are some of the most common ones:

  • Duck Viral Enteritis (DVE): DVE is a severe and contagious disease affecting Call ducks. Its symptoms may include sudden death, watery diarrhea, droopiness, and reduced appetite.
  • Riemerella Anatipestifer Infection: Riemerella anatipestifer infection is a bacterial condition that affects the respiratory and skeletal systems of Call ducks. It is characterized by coughing, abrupt weight loss, sneezing, and lameness.
  • Aspergillosis: Aspergillosis is a fungal infection that fowls can contract from moldy feed or bedding. Infected Call ducks might show signs of difficulty breathing, tail bobbing, and weakness.

The key to a long life for Call ducks lies in the care they receive. Therefore, make sure regular vet checks, timely vaccinations, and proper nutrition are part of your duck-owning routine.

Diet and Nutrition

Call ducks feast on various foods in the wild, from small fish, grains, and insects to aquatic plants and algae. When raising them, however, it’s best to offer commercially prepared duck feeds, which local farmers often sell.

Yet, if these feeds aren’t on hand, the one for chickens is a decent alternative. Just guarantee it contains the correct amount of vitamins so you can ensure your ducks are getting all their nutritional needs met.

Specifically, although protein isn’t their primary need, minerals like calcium and grit are essential. Thus, make sure they’re part of their diet in some way or another.

Above all, provide your Call ducks clean drinking water, ideally for a span of 8 to 12 hours daily. Note that staying hydrated is as critical as eating the right foods.

Housing and Enrichment

For Call ducks, or any breed for that matter, adequate housing is essential. To be specific, every duck needs at least four square feet in a duck house. Hence, for a group of five, a 4×5 foot house is the minimum.

Remember, though they might seem tiny, squeezing them into smaller spaces isn’t a wise move.

On the other hand, their outdoor pen, or run, should provide at least 12 square feet per duck. These birds are not meant to be cooped up all day, so make sure they have enough space to run around.

Also, enrich their surroundings with mirrors, old CDs, pinwheels, or even hollowed-out logs. Call ducks need to be kept entertained to avoid boredom and depression.

Lastly, the highlight of their environment should be water access — be it a pool, puddle, or pond.

How Much Does a Call Duck Cost?

Prices for Call ducks vary based on age, gender, location, and rarity of color. For starters, ducklings often have a price tag of $5 to $17. As they grow, though, the costs differ between drakes and hens.

To be specific, Call drakes generally cost between $20 and $50, while hens have a steeper price range of $30 to $70. However, if you are looking to get a pair, you should anticipate spending around $150 to $200.

Although Call ducks are frequently found in many poultry farms and hatcheries, potential buyers should know that specific color varieties might be harder to come by due to their rarity.

Pros and Cons of Keeping Call Ducks as Pets

Two Call ducks sitting on the grass

Raising and rearing Call ducks have become increasingly popular due to their appealing traits and vibrant personalities. However, as with any pet, there are both advantages and challenges associated with their care.

For your reference, the following are some pros of keeping Call ducks as pets:

  • Small size: The modest size of Call ducks offers a significant advantage for duck keepers, especially those with space constraints.
  • Easy to tame: Unlike other fowls, Call ducks have temperaments that make them easy to domesticate. With consistent care and attention, these ducks become friendly and can form strong bonds with their keepers.
  • Many color varieties: Call ducks come in a wide array of beautiful colors. From classic whites to vibrant blues, there’s likely a shade that will appeal to every duck enthusiast.
  • Incredibly cold hardy: Call ducks are robust creatures when it comes to weathering the cold. So, owners won’t need to worry excessively about them during the chillier months.

Meanwhile, below are the cons of owning Call ducks:

  • Mainly ornamental: While they’re captivating to look at, Call ducks are primarily kept for their aesthetics rather than productivity. Therefore, those seeking ducks for egg-laying or meat might be disappointed.
  • Potential aggression: Call ducks are commonly friendly and docile, but some can be aggressive. If you have small children or other pets in the area, be sure to supervise interactions between them.
  • Zoning area restrictions: Not all residential areas permit the keeping of poultry. So, before getting a Call duck, checking local zoning laws is crucial to avoid potential legal challenges.
  • Can be extremely noisy: One of the most notable traits of Call ducks is their loud, persistent quacking. This might be endearing for some, but for others, especially those close to neighbors, the noise might become a problem.

Call ducks bring a mix of charm, color, and charisma to any backyard or farm. Plus, their compact frame and friendly nature make them a favorite for many.

Yet, note that it’s still best to weigh the positives against the challenges these birds might present. This way, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not keeping a Call duck is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Call ducks walking on the grass

Are Call Ducks a Breed?

Yes, Call ducks are a distinct breed of duck. They fall under the bantam category of domesticated ducks and were officially recognized by the APA in 1874.

Are Call Ducks Cuddly?

Call ducks often enjoy cuddles and petting. However, while many cherish human affection and are extremely sweet, others can show feistiness without proper socialization.

Are Call Ducks Intelligent?

Call ducks are very intelligent. They can learn commands, play with complex toys, and show affection. However, their full potential emerges with patient and consistent owners who nurture their bright personalities.

What Are Call Ducks Good For?

Call ducks are mainly kept as ornamental pets. Despite their charm, they’re not prolific layers, and their small frame makes them unsuitable for meat production. In short, their value lies in companionship.

Can Call Ducks Be Raised With Chickens?

Yes, with sufficient space, your Call ducks and chickens can coexist. After all, they share similar living conditions.

However, it should be noted that ducks are notably messier compared to their chicken counterparts, which should be considered by poultry keepers before housing them together.

Do you have any experience with keeping Call ducks, or do you have any questions about them? Let us know in the comments below!

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