|Common Nicknames||Water Chicken|
Ducks are waterfowl well known in Aloria, existing in domesticated and wild surroundings across the world. It is unknown where they originated from, but today they are a common creature seen in parks, on farms and in the forest rivers on many continents. These animals are well known for often possessing a pronounced dichotomy between male and female members of the species, but also for playing a common role in Sihai culinary dishes (though a number of other Cultures also likes to incorporate Duck in their dishes).
Ducks have an unknown history in Aloria, seeming to exist in several far-flung locations at the same time throughout the world. The first to record the Duck were the Sihai from distant Zhong and Sheng, who noted some 100 Ducks slaughtered and prepared for a great feast in honor of the sixth Emperor of the Sheng Empire upon the birth of his first son. The Sihai Race today is still deeply involved in the consumption of Duck meat. From normal Aloria, the first to mention the animal was oddly not the Altalar, but the Ailor of the Regalian Archipelago. They identified the Duck relatively early into the history of the Regalian Empire, as they were commonly sighted in conjunction with Purple Crown Dragons, who brought rain and storms to the early Ailor. Some claim that the Duck is related to the Dragon, in that they both fly and are similarly widely spread about the world, but this is largely dismissed by even superstitious people in modern times. Most now believe that the Duck is merely an ancient animal which moved across the world with time or with migrating populations and in this case, was simply stirred into the air or into the water by the unknown Magic the Dragons used to water various areas of the Archipelago. In the following years, after the Cataclysm, the Ithanians bred their own breed of Duck and an exotic wild variety native to the tropical waters of the Daen Sea was also discovered. Today, a number of Ducks exist in domesticated surroundings, kept earth-bound by careful wing clipping or excellent training, though many more also exist in the wild, moving about the many waterways of Aloria; from natural rivers to artificial ones. They are a common sight in parks and water features across much of Aloria and it is likely to remain this way for the foreseeable future.
The Duck is a medium-sized waterfowl that, between the different breeds, varies in appearance. Several features are shaped across the species rather differently. Ducks are commonly anywhere from between one to two feet in height or length, with wingspans as wide as four feet and weights varying based on time of the year. The animal has a narrow head with a prominent round-ended beak facing forward and two large black eyes set back from it. The head is often smooth, though some species have tuffs or crests of plumage along it or the neck that attaches the head to the body. This neck is long enough to allow the bird to twist their head back almost a full 180 degrees to preen and clean itself when needed. The rest of the body is rotund and lightweight, supported by two, four-toed webbed feet along with two wings. The body ends in a short tail often made more obvious based on the feathers that cover it. The animal’s whole body is covered in feathers, which are waterproof and are able to handle the aquatic environments Ducks are found in. The coloration of each species of Duck varies.
As mentioned above, the Duck is a diverse animal. In its spread across Aloria, subspecies have emerged on continents to suit a variety of different needs or climates. In general, their population numbers are equal between the two sexes but sexual dimorphism does exist. Males are often marked out by crests of plumage, color variation and size when compared to smaller and different colored females. Below can be found a listing of the various subspecies of Duck in Aloria.
- Common Mallard: The Common Mallard is the most thoroughly spread breed of Duck in Aloria, being present on a multitude of continents. They possess a sharp male to female dichotomy with males possessing a glossy dark green colored head cut off by a white line around their necks that separates it from its mostly brown body. They are kept for egg and meat production, but also exist free out in the wild in a variety of water sources and waterways across Aloria, where they can be hunted.
- Royal Canard: The Royal Canard is a species of pure white Ducks bred by the Ithanians. This creature appears quite regal, with pointed tail feathers curled up into the air and a slight cresting of white feathers around the head often present in males of the species. They are kept primarily for eggs, but also as pets. They are known for having an ill temper against strangers or intruding animals unless properly given time to acclimate to them. This behaviour granted them the nicknames of the Fussy-feather Duck or the Warrior Duck. They are also commonly the species referenced in wooden childhood bath toys the world over.
- Daen Sea Duck: The Daen Sea Duck is the rarest variety of Duck in Aloria, limited in number and present on a handful of islands throughout Corontium and along eastern Daen. It is a dark toned species with teal to dark brown feathers, a dark if not downright black beak along with a wattle of fat around their lower neck. The bird also clearly demonstrates aging in how older members of the species develop white or grey feathers, speckled throughout their back and wings.
- Beyljon Duck: The Beyljon Duck is the most colorful species of Duck and comes from the lands of The Far East. It possesses deep red feathers, with a white underbelly and yellow head markings. It is present across the entire continent in a variety of locations, both in the wild but are more commonly domesticated, often being used for meat dishes enjoyed by many. Some specimens exist in Regalia, but only within Sihai populations as domesticated animals, entirely for use in the culinary arts.
Life Span and Development
Ducks are laid in nests as eggs of varying colors per each breed, numbering between three to twenty eggs. These eggs incubate for around a month before hatching, whereupon the ducklings will be led from the nest by their mother into the nearest source of water. Ducklings lack feathers, instead possessing a soft down that is generally two-toned; yellow paired with some other coloration (varying per breed). Ducklings who do not hatch with their brothers and sisters are often left behind and mother Ducks can sometimes abandon ducklings who become stuck in inaccessible areas or who display defects. Strangely enough, domesticated Ducks tend to ignore their ducklings after they hatch and so farmers and breeders will need to be a substitute mother for several weeks as the animal matures. This occurs rapidly, both in the wild and in domesticated environments, with the animal developing proper feathers and losing their soft down by the age of two months, by which time they will also be far less dependent or focused on their mother. An additional two months severs this connection entirely and the bird is now fully matured, capable of reproduction when the time comes. When mating occurs, often during wet months of the year (roughly spring and summer), parents often do not stick together for long after the eggs are laid into a nest both parties help build. The only breed that does not do this, is the Daen Sea Duck, who mates for several years to live with a partner. The Duck has a lifespan of eight to fifteen years in the wild (once they reach maturity, as there is an appalling duckling mortality rate), only slightly improved in domestication with the oldest few Ducks in such conditions having lived to twenty.
The Duck is a relatively passive omnivorous bird who feeds on small insects and plants. It spends its days waddling around, eating, resting and swimming, though such activities are often heavily confined to the area immediately around the nest during the incubation period and early stages of caring for ducklings (often only in the case of the mother). Females are protective of their young, yet can often be helpless to actually save or help them in difficult situations, lacking features conductive to properly fighting a threat. At worst, Ducks bite other animals who appear not to be predators, in addition to wing flapping and aggressive vocal noises. Their vocal noises are dominated by the stereotyping “quack,” but that sound is only produced by females and all Ducks are capable of other noises most comparable to grunts, coos and whistles. The Beyljon Duck also uniquely makes a hoarse “Beeeeeeh” noise during mating season, which some believe gave them their original name. Ducks are not very smart animals overall, unable to properly sense dangers and are prone to go where the water carries them, even if it’s over a waterfall.
Territory and Groupings
Ducks exist in small flocks from seven to twenty individuals who all live in a localized area. While they are generally loners during the day time, mated pairs will keep close together (until the eggs are laid) and groups tend to hunker down to sleep close to one another at night. These flocks are dominated by “drakes,” male ducks of the greatest size who often lead at the front of a group. Duck territory is varied greatly based on terrain, as urban wild Ducks tend to keep to certain parks while wild Ducks tend to move around based on water distribution. Domesticated Ducks have none of these traits and are solely confined to the fields and paths they waddle through.
- Daring Duck is a well known children’s character invented by Heartland Ceardian Ailor for literature. He is often pictured to live in a glade near Bouncy Bunny, Prickly Pig and a small cast of other animals. Their adventures are chronicled in a series of books still in the process of being written.
- Royal Canards are associated with Ithanian ideals of chivalry, namely that of purity.
- Beyljon Ducks sometimes follow after Peacock Stance Sihai, which can either bemuse or annoy the scholarly Race. It certainly must annoy farmers when a flock of their animals rushes off after the largest bird in the region.