Most breeds of duck are similar in appearance in the earliest stages of life. In most cases, careful observation can help you determine exactly what type of duckling you're watching. As ducklings develop, it will become easier for you to identify exactly what species they are.
Observe the color of the ducklings. Mallards are the most common type of domestic duck and the ducklings will have brown coloring near their eyes, on their heads, backs, wings and tails while the rest of their bodies are yellow. Wood ducks are common, and the ducklings are nearly identical to mallard ducklings. Muscovy ducklings are hatched yellow, then develop brown coloring that will fade as they mature. Pekin ducklings will be bright yellow with orange bills and legs; they do not turn brown.
Look at the parent or other adult birds who are accompanying the ducklings. Ducks prefer to stay in flocks rather than wander out on their own, particularly ducklings. Adult ducks are much easier to tell apart by breed. If the adults surrounding the duckling are all the same species then you can pretty much guarantee the ducklings are going to be the same breed as the adults. Consult a bird guide or local birding club for assistance if you are unable to identify the breed of the parent, as some species or colorations can be rare or are seen only in certain regions.
Take your ducklings to an avian veterinarian and have the veterinarian determine the species of the duckling. Have your avian veterinarian perform genetic testing to determine what breed the ducklings are if she can not identify them based on their physical appearance.
- Continue to observe the ducklings as they develop and mature, the differences between the breeds will become more apparent as they mature and you will be able to tell what breed they are.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.