Difference Between Goose and Duck

Main Difference – Goose vs Duck

Geese and ducks are two groups of freshwater birds coming under family Anatidae. This family includes swans other than geese and ducks. All these birds inhabit freshwater habitats including lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and marshes. Their size, shape, color, and the behavior vary widely. There are about 150 identified species of this family. They are commonly known as waterfowls and distributed all over the world except Antarctica. Wild waterfowls are considered as one of the most obvious indicators of productivity and diversity of a particular habitat. They make the top link of the wetland food chains and are pretty much vulnerable to pollution and disturbances. Humans have become the greatest enemy of waterfowls due to excessive hunting of wild waterfowls. The main difference between duck and goose is their size. The adult ducks are usually smaller than adult geese. In this article, the difference between goose and duck will be discussed in detail.

Goose – Facts, Characteristic Features

Geese belong to the same family of waterfowls and share many characteristic features of their relatives; ducks and swans. However, the most characteristic feature of geese is the presence of long necks and absence of non-iridescent colors. Of course, there are two types of geese; namely, anser geese and branta geese. Anser geese are characterized by their pink or orange or gray legs and pronged bills. Examples of anser geese include swan goose, bar-headed goose, pink-footed goose and white-fronted goose. Branta geese have characteristic black bills, which are not pronged. Barnacle goose, brant goose, Canada goose and Hawaiian goose are some examples for branta geese. 

Geese, unlike their other relatives, often spend their time in terrestrial habitats with short grasses and water bodies. A flock of geese is called a gaggle. Gaggles make ‘V’ formation when they fly in order to reduce the friction of air and increase the flying range. Geese show strong affection for their fellow members in a gaggle. If any goose is sick or injured, a couple of other geese will look after the injured member until it dies or recovers. Geese have a monogamous relationship with their mate throughout their lifetime. They usually return to their birth lands for mating and nesting. The nests are built on isolated sites near water bodies. Some migratory geese fly more than 2000 miles to return to their first breeding grounds. They molt their flight and tail feathers annually. They cannot fly during this season and may have to wait about 6 weeks until the complete development of new flying feathers.

Difference Between Goose and Duck

Duck – Facts, Characteristic Features

Ducks are smaller than geese and often confused with other groups of water birds including grebes and coots. Unlike geese and swans, ducks have shorter necks and wings with stout bodies. Female ducks or ‘hens’ usually have dull brown feathers, which enables them to camouflage and helpful to avoid predators. Unlike hens, male ducks or drakes have bright plumages, which are useful to attract females during mating season. Ducks have webbed feet, which act as paddles when swimming. Ducks can swim even in extremely cold waters because they do not feel cold due to the lack of nerves and blood vessels in their feet. They use the oil produced in preen gland located near the tail to apply on feathers, which make them waterproof in nature. Their bill is usually broad, flat and have lamellae along the edge of it. Ducks also molt and cannot fly during the molting season. Migratory ducks usually molt before they start their journey. They prefer habitats with warmer climatic conditions to spend their breeding season. Ducks usually feed on insects, snails, and seed.

Main Difference - Goose vs Duck

Difference Between Goose and Duck


Ducks are smaller than geese.

Geese have long necks and legs than ducks.


Geese do not have bright plumages.

Ducks (males) have bright plumages.

Unlike geese, female ducks call with ‘quack’ sound.


Geese prefer to eat short grass.

Ducks prefer to eat insects, snails, and seeds.Difference Between Goose and Duck - infographic


Janet, K. (Ed.). (n.d.). Bird Families of the world: Ducks, Geese and Swans(Vol. 1). Oxford University Press. available here 

Ruth Soffer, North American ducks, geese and swans (1996), Dover publications inc, NY

Animal Facts -Geese. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2015, from here

Animal Facts -Geese. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2015, from here

Image Courtesy:

“Branta sandvicensis -Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii, USA-8″ by Brenda Zaun of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters – Kilauea Point and neneUploaded by Snowmanradio. (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons


“Anas platyrhynchos male female quadrat” by This picture was realized by Richard Bartz by using a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens – Own work. (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Wikimedia Commons

About the Author: admin