Duck vs. Goose: What's the Difference?

Posted by Crystal Long
Duck and goose on a white background

They look similar, but ducks and geese are, well, a different animal. Here's what you need to know about the two.

Duck, duck, GOOSE - This popular children's game immediately comes to mind when I think about the two birds. Ducks and geese are both waterfowls that belong to the Anatidae family, and while they look similar at first glance, there are many differences that distinguish the two. But with a total of 29 species of geese and 90 species of ducks, it's easy to see how we can get them confused.

So, what exactly are the differences between the two types of birds?

The Showdown: Duck vs Goose

One of the main things that is different between the two waterfowls is size: In general, geese are larger than ducks. This means they have longer necks, more elongated bodies, and yes, they also have longer legs. As opposed to the duck, where they are typically smaller, with a little stout body and short legs. Both of these waterfowls have webbed feet (to help their swimming skills of course!), however, the webbing on a goose is much more prominent.

Other than the size, you can tell the difference between these two aquatic birds by their individual bills. Yes, even though all waterfowls have the classic wide, flat bills, wild geese have shorter bills and low nostrils, while wild ducks have flat bills with high nostrils. Ducks are omnivores, so like humans, they eat both plants and animals, like snails, fish, and crustaceans among others. Whereas geese are herbivores, and will only eat aquatic plants.

When it comes to vocalization, ducks are famously known for their loud quacks. Interesting fact: male ducks have a softer quack, and female ducks let out that distinctive loud quack. Geese, on the other hand, communicate with their buddies with a honking sound.

Goose Down or Duck Down?

Perhaps the most well-known byproduct of ducks and geese are down products. Down products, like duvets and down pillows, are popular buys in today's consumer market. Goose down has a higher fill power and is thus warmer (and more costly!), but a high-quality duck down can be better than a just-ok goose down.

Do you live with a duck or a goose? Please tell us in the comments!

READ MORE: Duck Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs: 10 Reasons Why It's Time for a Change

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Duck vs. Goose: What's the Difference?