Red Oak Farm
Copyright © 1998 -2012
Occasionally we get non-emu questions like this one:
Question: I am working on a project for school, one of the questions is how does a duck stay afloat on water and why doesn't he get wet. I found one source that says the barbs of a feather are so tightly knit that it keeps the water off and another says it is because of the natural oils the ducks have. Can you help me answer this
Answer: The reason ducks (or geese) stay afloat is complicated. There is a special gland that produces oil back near the duck's tail. As the duck preens itself, the oil is spread out over it's feathers and coats them making them waterproof. If you were to dip or pour a degreaser on the duck, it would remove the oil and the duck would drown in water.
Because the feathers are waterproof, they can trap air and this also helps to keep the duck afloat. When the duck dives under for food, the air is squeezed from the feathers. Also, the duck has air sacs (lungs) that it empties before diving. When it has caught the fish or whatever it is after, it kicks back to the surface. As it's head breaks the surface, it takes a deep breath and as the lungs fill up, it is jerked to the surface. A quick ruffle of the feathers and it is back to normal, floating on the surface.