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Is a female duck called a duck?

Is a female duck called a duck?

When referring to a female duck, there are a few different terms that can be used. The most common and generic term is simply “duck.” While male ducks may sometimes be called “drakes,” female ducks are usually just referred to as “ducks.”

Using “Duck” as a Generic Term

The word “duck” can be used as a generic term to refer to both male and female ducks. Just like how the terms “horse” or “dog” don’t differentiate between genders, “duck” is commonly used to refer to ducks of either sex.

So if you see a female duck swimming in a pond and say “Look at that duck,” you would be using the correct and most common terminology. The word “duck” doesn’t specify gender in most contexts, so it can apply to both male and female birds.

This makes the term versatile and easy to use in conversation or writing. You don’t need to worry about determining the duck’s gender or using specialized terminology. Simply saying “duck” will communicate that you’ve spotted a female duck.

When to Use “Hen”

While just using “duck” is perfectly acceptable, there are some instances where specifying that a duck is female is preferred. In these cases, the term “hen” may be used.

Examples of when you might want to differentiate and specifically refer to a duck as a hen include:

  • Describing the duck’s behavior – A mother duck caring for her ducklings would be called a “hen” rather than just a “duck.”
  • Identifying females for breeding purposes – A farm that raises ducks for meat, eggs, or breeding stock would want to identify their hens.
  • Discussing wild populations – Wildlife biologists discussing wild ducks may refer to hens and drakes rather than just ducks.

So in any context where the duck’s sex matters and you want to be clear that you’re talking about a female, using the term “hen” would be most accurate.

Other Terms for Female Ducks

In addition to the common terms “duck” and “hen,” there are some other names that can be used to refer to female ducks:

  • Young females – A juvenile female duck can be called a duckling.
  • Groups – A group of female ducks together can be called a raft.
  • By species – Some duck species have distinct female names, like mallard hen for a female mallard duck.
  • Mother – A female duck with ducklings may be referred to as a mother duck or mother hen.

But in most casual conversation, simply using the catch-all term “duck” is perfectly fine when referring to a female duck.


The most common term for a female duck is simply “duck.” The word itself is gender neutral and applies to both male and female birds. Specifying that a duck is female is only necessary in certain contexts.

Other acceptable options like “hen” or “mother duck” can be used when the duck’s sex and/or parental status needs to be distinguished. But in general usage, just calling a female duck a “duck” will get the point across.

So next time you’re at a park and see a female mallard swimming in the pond, feel free to simply point and say “Look at that duck!” There’s no need to worry about calling it a hen unless the duck’s sex is relevant to the situation.

Term Definition Example of Use
Duck A common gender-neutral term for referring to either male or female ducks “That duck is swimming in the pond.”
Hen Used to specify a duck is female, especially when the sex is relevant “The hen is protecting her ducklings.”
Duckling Refers specifically to young female ducks “The ducklings stayed close to their mother.”
Raft A group of female ducks together is called a raft “A raft of ducks lives in the wetlands area.”

This table summarizes some of the different terminology used to refer to female ducks.

Here are some other key points to help summarize the answer to whether a female duck is called a duck:

  • “Duck” is used as a generic, gender neutral term in most situations.
  • “Hen” specifies a female duck when the sex matters.
  • A mother duck caring for ducklings may be referred to as a “mother duck” or “hen”.
  • Groups of female ducks have terms like “raft”.
  • But simply saying “duck” usually works when referring to a female duck.