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Do Ducks Fly At Night?

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Ducks are birds and they have feathers, meaning they should be able to fly, right

What about flying at night? Have you ever asked yourself that question whether ducks fly at all and if they fly at night?

Do ducks fly at night? Ducks fly at night simply for migration, heat preservation and to escape diurnal predators. This is because nighttime is when most migrations occur for them. Also flying at night has some benefits for your birds such as curtailing their nocturnal activity during the night and also as a means for feeding.

Why do ducks fly at night?

Do Ducks Fly At Night
Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Now we have established that ducks fly at night, let’s look at some of the reasons why they fly at night

1. They fly for migration

The number one reason why ducks will fly at night is simply for migration

Now this is assuming you are not keeping them as pets in your house or rearing them.

I am talking about ducks in the wild here

Most duck migrations happen at night and research has shown that such migratory movements usually start after sunset, peak at night and then decline thereafter.

This usually results in an increase in duck numbers overnight and if you have observed situations whereby a mash or stream can be devoid of ducks one afternoon and suddenly full with ducks the next morning.

On migration and wintering areas, the daily activity of ducks and geese is influenced by the birds’ energy demands, weather and habitat conditions, and disturbance from hunters or natural predators. 

Being highly mobile, waterfowl respond quickly to changes in their environment by moving from one habitat to the next. 

And ducks and geese often make these local shifts in distribution at night.

2. It has to do with the turbulence of the weather

See when ducks fly at night, they adopt a unique flying formation called the V formation

If you happen to catch them flying over your backyard, you notice that they are always in a v formation

What happens is that in the formation the lead goose is usually the lowest in the flock

Each goose behind is slightly higher than the one in front of it, all the way to the last goose, which is flying the highest. 

They do this because of the aerodynamics of their wings. 

The only goose that is using all its wing power is the lead goose… the point-man, so to speak. When that goose flaps its wings, it causes a certain turbulence of the air that’s following the wing. 

The next goose in line benefits from this swirling air, and doesn’t need to apply 100% of its wingpower. 

The next goose, again benefits from that one, and so on down the line. 

Flying in formation this way adds 71% more distance that they can fly than when flying alone.

So they actually take turns being the lead goose

When one bird is tired, he drops back so he can rest and benefit from the turbulence created by the other bird.

This is why they migrate at night because when done in good weather and favourable winds, these birds can cover up to 1500 miles in a single day.

3. Flying at night helps prevent overheating

Ducks are unique birds and different from other birds in that when flying they do not soar.

They flap their wings

And this flapping of their wings when flying tends to expend lots of energy and cause the birds to overheat

So when they want to migrate, they choose nighttime simply because the nights are cooler

These birds are really smart

Nights are much cooler than day time so birds like ducks that expend a lot of energy with constant flapping as against soaring will always choose the nighttime to fly.

4. It protects them from predators

Now like I mentioned earlier, ducks are very smart birds and one thing they need to be constantly aware of is predators.

During the day diurnal hunters such as hawks, eagles and falcons are usually up there flying in the skies and no right thinking duck or geese is going to struggle with such powerful birds.

So what they do is during the day while diurnal birds are up in the skies, the ducks are feeding, resting and rejuvenating in waters where they are safe from such birds.

At night when it’s safer, they fly out and migrate


Ducks do fly at night as that’s the time when they migrate.

They also prefer night time because it protects them from predators and helps them conserve heat.

Photo of author

About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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