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What Are Duck Feet Called? (Answered & Explained)

what are duck feet called

What Are Duck Feet Called? (Answered & Explained)

Ducks are pretty unique creatures that can operate on three mediums. In the air, on the water, or land. For ducks, every element is like a home. However, water is where ducks feel most natural. Webbed feet and waterproof feathers are two physical characteristics that make ducks great swimmers.

But in case you wondered, what is the name of those webbed feet? What are duck feet called?

Duck feet are called palmate feet. Palmate feet is the most common type of webbed feet among four different kinds of webbed feet. Most semi-aquatic birds have some form of webbed feet. Palmate type of webbed feet is perfect for ducks; it helps them steer and swim efficiently. Besides ducks, palmate feet are also found in geese, gulls, swans, and other types of water birds.


Types of webbed feet

Studies have shown that webbed feet are something that derives from the adaptation and evolution of bird species.

In today’s world, five different bird orders have webbed feet. Bird feet can vary in size, length, and degree of webbing.

However, bird feet can be split into four main webbed categories:

Palmate feet

Palmate feet are the most common type of feet among birds with webbed feet. Found in waterfowl birds, such as ducks, geese, gulls, swans, also in flamingos, and other aquatic birds.

In the palmate type of feet, the front three toes are webbed and are facing forward. Whereas the back tiny toe is disconnected from the front three toes, and it is pointing back.

Totipalmate feet

Totipalmate feet, or fully webbed, are the type of feet where all four toes are joined by webs. Found in pelicans, cormorants, gannets, frigate birds, and boobies.

Semipalmate feet

Semipalmate feet are the type of feet similar to palmate feet – the web is connecting the anterior toes. However, the webbing is smaller than in the palmate type, and so the front toes are not connected along their entire length.

Semipalmate feet are found in sandpipers, plovers, avocet, herons, and some domesticated types of hens.

Lobate feet

In this kind of foot type, the front three toes are edged with lobes of skin. When in water, birds expand their lobes to swim more efficiently.

Lobate feet are commonly found in coots, grebes, finfoots, and coots.

Why does a duck have webbed feet?

Ducks have webbed feet primarily because it helps them pad through the water. Recent studies have discovered that ducks use their webbed feet to push water in both directions.

As a result, this unique swimming skill help waterfowl propel themselves through the water with great speed.

Duck webbed feet are also used for other ways of locomotion. Flying and walking. Yet, the evolution of webbed feet is primarily for better swimming ability and for improving the duck’s aquatic life.

Also, waterfowl feet are an important factor when it comes to maintaining body temperature. A process called counter-current heat circulation. 

Duck feet are natural radiators, and together with body blood arteries and veins, ducks control their body temperature and minimize heat loss in cold conditions.

How many legs do ducks have?

Ducks possess four limbs. Two legs and two wings.

Ducks are types of birds that can walk, fly and swim. Their legs are well developed. More aquatic duck species have their legs positioned far back on the body, which helps them be even more efficient swimmers.

On the other hand, duck wings are short and pointy. When flying, ducks have to swing their wings fast, which requires strong muscles for continuous repetition and long flights.

Migratory ducks are also known to make V format when flying – in order to have better efficiency during flights. (source)

Although not all duck species can fly. Ducks that were born in captivity usually do not fly; because they do not have reason to do so.

Why are ducks’ feet orange?

Orange color feet suggest that the duck is healthy and that it is getting all the vitamins. However, changing the color of bills and feet has its role when it comes to mating.

Orange colors attract the opposite sex. And so, during paring season, from December to January, both female and male mallards turn their feet and bill bright orange.


Special webbed feet called palmate feet are unique to waterfowl. Palmate feet’ main role is to improve the life of birds while in the water.

The palmate feet are the most common webbed feet kinds, and they help ducks, geese, gulls, and swans to be great swimmers.

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