Why Are Baby Ducks Yellow? (5 Reasons Why)

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Ava Medina

Ava Medina has 20 years of experience as a veterinarian assistant and is utterly obsessed with rabbits and cats. Ava also volunteers at animal shelters in her spare time.

Baby ducks are a blessing to our eyes, ears, brains, and mental health. Ever wondered why baby ducks are yellow, though?

While they’re not all actually yellow, we did look at the top five reasons why we think the world was blessed with yellow baby ducks. Read on to find out why!

Why Are Ducklings Yellow?

1. It’s Just A Few Breeds

Contrary to popular belief, not all ducklings are actually yellow. In fact, there are just a handful of breeds that have yellow ducklings like the ones we see in cartoons and on TV.

American Pekin, one of the most common breeds of ducks in the US, is probably the breed that made most of us associate yellow fluffy cuteness with baby ducks.

Most wild ducks have fawn to dark brown ducklings. Some of them have cute yellow markings all over, but no wild species of ducks have all-yellow ducklings.

2. We Made Them That Way

Yep, you read that right. No wild duck breeds have yellow ducklings because there are no white ducks in the wild.

White ducks, the adult version of yellow ducklings, are actually the result of decades of selective breeding.

It only makes sense that you wouldn’t find that color in the wild since they’d be target practice for predators in the wild like, well, sitting ducks!

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It’s not very well documented, so we don’t know if it was intentional or not, but all-white plumage in ducks and chickens is thought to have resulted from domesticating poultry.

3. Blame It On Rubber Ducks

Blame It On Rubber Ducks

It’s safe to assume that rubber ducks are one of the biggest reasons we think all ducklings are yellow. They’ve been our childhood bath-time besties for years in just about every home.

Most people don’t realize the rich history of the classic yellow rubber duck. It has been in our culture for almost an entire century!

That’s right, rubber ducks go back as early as the late 1800s but didn’t take the form we know now till the sculptor Peter Ganine made it in the 40s.

They were also only available in yellow for a few decades before that Sesame Street song sensationalized them in the 70s, prompting a myriad of colors and styles.

4. Because Yellow Is A Sunny Color

Yellow is the color of sunshine, gold, and countless other things that have naturally brought us joy since early civilization.

However, this isn’t just happy vibes by association; yellow is actually considered the color of happiness or positivity in the psychology of colors.

If you can depend on one color to have an uplifting effect, it’s definitely yellow! VeryWellMind says that yellow can be used to improve your mood and make you more happy and optimistic.

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After all, there’s a reason why a lot of cartoon duck characters are yellow. They easily look a lot friendlier and more happy-go-lucky than white ducklings. Just take The Ugly Duckling as an example!

5. Because Yellow Ducklings Are Cuter

If you’ve ever seen a baby swan, you’ll probably get why that momma duck was mean to the ugly duckling. We’d be lying if we said they don’t look a little roughed up despite their cuteness.

Jokes aside, though, there are a couple of reasons why the babies of any type of bird have different colors than adults.

Reason number one is evolutionary, and it’s that it makes adult birds want to take care of them. Young birds’ colors trigger the parenting instinct in the adults of their species. Makes you think, huh?

Reason number two, and perhaps one that isn’t applicable for yellow ducklings, is that it helps camouflage them when they’re in their nests.

Of course, considering that yellow ducklings are a result of selective breeding, as we mentioned earlier, their baby colors skipped the part where survivability was more important than cuteness.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why dolphins are so friendly, why kangaroos are so buff, and why moths are attracted to you.

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As you can see, not all ducklings are yellow. Some are fawn, white, brown, and even black. However, we do know that yellow ducklings almost strictly come with domesticated breeds only.

So despite the fact that this color doesn’t occur naturally, it seems that domesticated baby ducks were meant to have this zesty, uplifting color. Either that or we’re very lucky!


  • Ava Medina

    Ava Medina has 20 years of experience as a veterinarian assistant and is utterly obsessed with rabbits and cats. Ava also volunteers at animal shelters in her spare time.

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