Are geese and ducks the same

Duck vs Goose: 5 Key Differences for These Birds!

Written by August Buck

Published: February 16, 2022

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While we can all recognize a duck vs goose, there are many differences between these two birds that you may not have thought about. While both belong to the same family of waterfowl known as Anatidae, these two types of birds live very different lives, especially depending on their individual breeds and ages. 

In this article, we will address some of the primary differences between ducks and geese, as well as some tips to help you tell them apart if you are unsure. We will also dive into detail regarding these birds and their diets and mating habits. Let’s get started now! 

Comparing Duck vs Goose

Geese are much larger in both length and weight when compared to ducks, and their necks are longer as well.


Size15-25 inches; 2-5 pounds30-50 inches; 15-20 pounds
AppearanceCompact body and neck; feathers are usually much more colorful; bill is wider and longer than gooseLarge body and very long neck; feathers found in plain colors and patterns; bill is shorter and more pointed than duck
DietOmnivorous, including grass and small fishHerbivorous, including algae and plant matter found on land
Lifespan3-8 years8-12 years

The Main Differences Between Duck vs Goose

Ducks have more colorful feathers when compared to geese, especially male ducks.

©Harry Collins Photography/

There are many key differences between ducks vs geese to help you tell them apart. Geese are much larger in both length and weight when compared to ducks, and their necks are longer as well. Ducks have more colorful feathers when compared to geese, especially male ducks. Finally, a duck vs goose differ in their diet and lifespans, as geese live longer and are herbivores, while ducks live shorter lives overall and eat an omnivorous diet.

Let’s discuss all of these details in more detail now.

Duck vs Goose: Size and Weight

The main difference between ducks vs geese lies in their difference in size and weight. Geese are much larger than ducks, and they have elegant long necks compared to the average length of a duck’s neck.

The average duck, depending on species, weighs anywhere from 2-5 pounds, while geese weigh double that. Ducks often grow anywhere from 15 to 20 inches in length, while geese reach 30 to 50 inches, depending on the specific breed. This is a huge difference in size, and you can easily tell this when looking at a duck and goose side-by-side. 

The average duck, depending on species, weighs anywhere from 2-5 pounds, while geese weigh double that.


Duck vs Goose: Appearance

Another difference between ducks and geese can be found in their appearances. Besides their overall size differences, ducks tend to have much more colorful feathers when compared to geese. While it will always depend on the specific breed, the majority of ducks, especially male ducks, have brightly colored feathers and intricate patterns. Geese tend to be more muted in color as well as pattern. 

Ducks also have wider and longer bills when compared to geese, and this is likely due to their dietary differences. Geese have bills that are equally strong, but they are usually significantly shorter in length when compared to duck bills. 

Ducks have wider and longer bills when compared to geese, and this is likely due to their dietary differences.


Duck vs Goose: Diet

While it depends on the specific breed of duck or goose, these birds tend to have different diets. While ducks are known for their omnivorous diets, geese are primarily herbivores. Geese tend to eat plant matter, both in and out of the water, while ducks eat a wide variety of fish and crustaceans, depending on their breed and local environment. 

Duck vs Goose: Lifespan

Another key difference when it comes to duck vs goose lies in their lifespan. Geese have longer life spans than ducks overall, living an average of 8 to 12 years, while ducks live an average of 3 to 8 years total. This is a statistic based on wild ducks and geese, as captive waterfowl tend to live longer lives.

The reason that ducks likely have a much shorter life span than geese is due to their smaller size and less aggressive behavior. Many ducklings don’t reach a full year of living due to predation and inability to protect themselves. Geese tend to be more aggressive than ducks overall and are fierce protectors of their babies.  

Geese have longer life spans than ducks overall, living an average of 8 to 12 years, while ducks live an average of 3 to 8 years total.

©Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/

Duck vs Goose: Mating and Breeding Habits

A final difference between ducks vs geese is their mating and breeding habits. While both of these birds are largely considered monogamous, this definition is loosely based around their breeding times, year after year. Let’s talk about this in more detail now.

For example, geese are largely considered totally monogamous, committing to a partner for the duration of their lifespan. Ducks are different from the geese in this way in that they remain monogamous with a partner for a single breeding season, seeking out new partners the next year for breeding purposes. 

Many studies suggest that this monogamy is one of the reasons why geese are more aggressive than ducks around mating season. Male geese take equal parts in taking care of their young, not leaving everything up to the female goose. This is a surprising change of pace when compared to just about any other animal in the animal kingdom, but especially birds.

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About the Author

August Buck

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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Goose vs. Duck: What Are the Differences? (With Pictures)

Ducks and geese are similar in appearance, and many people mistake one for the other. While there are a few key similarities, there are also distinct differences between these two bird types. Ducks and geese are both waterfowl and both a part of the family Anatidae. They both have webbed feet and broad, flat beaks and favor living in small flocks. That said, while all geese species are migratory birds, only some duck species are, and geese are typically much larger than ducks.

Let’s look at the similarities between these two waterfowl and the key differences.

Visual Differences

Image Credit: Left: Goose: Pixabay | Right: Duck: jjvxphotography, Shutterstock

At a Glance


  • Origin: Egypt
  • Size: 30–40 inches long, 18–22 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–24 years
  • Domesticated?: Estimated 3,000 years ago in Egypt


  • Origin: China
  • Size: 20–26 inches long, 1.5–3.5 pounds
  • Lifespan: 5–10 years
  • Domesticated?: Estimated 2,200 years ago in Southeast Asia

Goose Overview

Image Credit: Gav Smith, Shutterstock

Characteristics & Appearance

Geese belong to the family Anatidae, which comprises the genera Anser, which are grey and white geese, and Branta, which are black geese. Within these groups, there are almost 100 different geese species, including:

  • Canada goose
  • Swan goose
  • Greylag goose
  • Brant goose
  • Cackling goose
  • Greater white-fronted goose

Geese are large birds, smaller than swans but much larger than ducks, with characteristic long necks and flattened bills. They are typically grey, white, or black in color, and some have wingspans up to 6 feet!

Geese live in various habitats, though they always tend to live close to water, including wetlands, marshes, streams, and lakes, and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. All geese, domesticated or wild, are highly social creatures, and goose pairs typically mate for life. Except during breeding season, geese tend to live in large flocks, where they spend most of their time foraging for food.

One of the biggest differences between geese and ducks is geese’s tendency for aggression. During the breeding season, males can be highly territorial and aggressive in the protection of their young. Geese are large, somewhat clumsy birds, and this is largely why they have this driven, territorial instinct.

Image Credit: Pixabay


Geese are multipurpose animals and useful birds to have around on small farms. They also make beautiful show birds. They are great foragers and can help keep your lawn trim and free from weeds. They are low-maintenance birds in general, certainly less so than ducks. Geese are notoriously loud and noisy birds, though, which does make them great guard animals because they’ll always alert you to any strange new sounds or visitors.

While geese are not great layers (they only produce around 60 eggs a year), their eggs are large, nutritious, and delicious, and most species of domestic geese produce tender, premium-quality meat.

Duck Overview

Image Credit: Agami Photo Agency, Shutterstock

Characteristics & Appearance

Ducks are, like geese, a part of the family Anatidae but are the smallest member. There are many different duck species, but the most common in the United States include:

  • Mallards
  • Scaups
  • Teals
  • American Widgeon

Ducks are typically divided into several categories according to common characteristics. These include diving ducks, dabbling ducks, goldeneyes, and perching ducks, and there are various species within these categories.

A standard duck, no matter the species, has a characteristic rounded head, torpedo-shaped body, and a flattened, rounded bill. Most ducks also have long necks but still much shorter necks than swans or geese. Males are usually the most colorful, depending on the species, and females typically have dull brown feathers that make it easier for them to hide from predators.

Ducks tend to spend most of their time on the water and inhabit ponds, streams, rivers, and wetlands and can be found on every continent but Antarctica. Ducks are generally docile, social creatures and do not have the aggressive reputation of geese. They do best in small flocks and are known to become depressed if they live alone. While geese are known for pair-mating and bonding for life, ducks form seasonal bonds only, and new pair bonds are formed each season. Ducks, like geese, are omnivores and forage on grass, aquatic plants, insects, and even small crustaceans.

Image Credit: Alfonso Perez, Shutterstock


Ducks are highly useful animals that are used for meat, eggs, and feathers. Since ducks are expert foragers, they are great for keeping weeds at bay and are the ideal solution if you have a slug infestation—slugs are irresistible to ducks!

Besides their delicious meat, ducks are far more prolific layers than geese, and in captivity, they can lay an egg every day or two in the right conditions, making them ideal for small homesteads as an alternative to chickens.

Related Read: 32 Fascinating & Fun Duck Facts You Never Knew

What Are the Differences Between Geese and Ducks?

Geese are far larger than even the biggest duck species and have longer, more slender necks too. Geese can occasionally be found with colored feathers, but ducks are generally far more colorful than geese, especially males. Ducks have longer, wider bills than geese and are omnivores, while geese tend to be predominantly herbivorous—although some species do eat small fish and insects at times.

Geese form powerful pair bonds and mate for life, while ducks have short mating seasons and mate with a different partner every season. Geese also have a far longer lifespan than ducks, and most ducks have an average lifespan of 10 years, while geese can easily live up to 20 years in the right conditions. Lastly, most ducks do not migrate, while all species of geese migrate every year.

Which Breed Is Right for You?

If you’re looking for an animal that can provide you with abundant, nutritious eggs and healthy, tender meat, ducks are the best choice. Geese eggs are also nutritious and tasty, but they lay much less frequently than ducks.

If, however, you’re looking for a beautiful pet bird to have on your homestead, both ducks and geese are great choices. Geese are great alarm systems and will notify you of any strange animals or people. They are also hardier and longer-lived than ducks, so if you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet, geese will be the better option.

You may also want to read about:

  • 8 Largest Duck Breeds (With Pictures)
  • Toulouse Goose
  • Male vs Female Canada Goose: What’re The Differences? (with Pictures)

Featured Image Credit: Top – Goose (Pixabay) | Bottom – Duck (Pixabay)

Goose and duck - differences: how they look, what is the difference, main features


  • Description and differences
  • Goose and swan, description and differences
  • How to distinguish a duckling from a caterpillar at home

Since ancient times, man has tamed certain types of birds, including ducks and geese. They have an external resemblance, so the novice farmer needs to learn to distinguish between these birds.

Description and differences

Ducks and geese belong to the same family of birds. These animals spend most of their lives on the surface of the water, so they have little difference in body structure. To understand this difference, you need to understand the description of each type of bird.

What the goose looks like:

  • Weight between 2.5-4 kg. The body length reaches 0.9 m, and the wingspan is 1.8 m. The bird is covered with gray, white or gray-brown feathers. There are specimens with mixed plumage. But such birds are quite rare. On farms, white-fronted or white-necked animals are bred. nine0006
  • The paws of a goose are painted orange, and a membrane is stretched between the fingers. This species is characterized by a proud posture due to the attachment of the legs to the middle of the body.
  • The beak has a small fingernail, and small teeth are visible on the inside. It has the same color as the paws.
  • The neck of a goose is of medium length.
  • The goose is inferior in size to the gander. In males, a bone tubercle grows on the beak.


Ducks are described as follows:

  • They are medium in size. Males weigh from 3 to 4 kg, and females - 2-3. 5 kg. If the bird is domestic, the body length can reach 0.63 m, and its wild relative grows no more than 0.5 m.
  • They have plumage of various colors, but all species have a color "mirror" on the wings. The females are speckled, brown or gray, while the drakes have bright plumage.
  • Almost all types of ducks have yellow feet. They have membranes and are attached to the lower third of the body. Therefore, they have a characteristic manner of movement - when walking, they roll from side to side. nine0006

Note! You can find out on your own how a goose differs from a duck if you carefully observe the birds. But for this you need to live near a poultry farm or breed animals yourself.

Goose and duck - differences:

  • Despite the presence of good flight feathers in birds, geese are capable of long flights, while ducks fly a little worse.
  • In appearance, these waterfowl are easily distinguished by the shape of their nose. In a goose it is pointed, while in ducks it is wide and flat. The colors of the beak are also different. nine0006
  • The difference between a goose and a duck can be seen in the sounds they make: the former cackle and hiss if they feel danger, while the latter quack.
  • Some farmers try to distinguish these animals by their diet. After all, geese prefer cereals, various berries and seeds, greens, although some of them consume insects and vertebrates. And the duck diet consists of plants living in water and various spineless animals.
  • Geese live in stable pairs. A goose can lay 6-12 eggs. She guards and trains her offspring. Ducks create a family for only one season. They incubate up to 13 eggs and then raise ducklings on their own. nine0006
  • Despite the similarity of habitats, geese prefer to settle by the sea, in swamps, near lakes. Ducks more often choose rivers with reeds and ponds.

It is quite easy to recognize them correctly, you just need a desire.

Goose and swan, description and differences

Domestic goose - description

These birds are related species. Both species are waterfowl. They prefer to settle near the seashore or swamps. They feed on vegetation.

The description of the swan is of particular interest:

  • The bird is rather large. Her body weight ranges from 10 to 23 kg. The smallest subspecies weighs about 6 kg, its wingspan reaches 0.55 m.
  • Paws are short, awkwardly roll over when walking from side to side. This sign makes it possible to determine that the bird is a waterfowl.
  • Swans fly over long distances, on the order of several thousand kilometers.
  • The nose of a waterfowl is red. The beaks are painted in yellow tones. The swan's beak is always pointing down. nine0006
  • Curved neck. Its length allows the swan to get food from great depths.
  • There are many types of swans with different colors. There are white, gray, black birds. All of them are listed in the Red Book.
  • These waterfowl are quite aggressive. On their territory, they tolerate only a permanent partner and chicks. It is impossible to tame them.
  • Juveniles until puberty are colored gray or brown from the back, and their abdomen is white. nine0006

Goose and swan

What is the difference between a goose and a swan:

  • Visually, the second bird looks more graceful. Her neck is longer, and it is gracefully arched.
  • There is also a difference in the size of the animals. The swan is larger than the goose and therefore weighs more. It has a wingspan of about 2 m.
  • Geese are polygamous birds. And swans are monogamous species.
  • You can tell a swan from a gander by the sounds they make. The former can hiss, trumpet, emit something in the form of a scream with their throat, while the latter only hiss and cackle. nine0006

Note! Male and female swan are the same size, so it is difficult to distinguish between them. Geese are much larger than geese.

How to tell ducklings from goslings at home

Ducks and geese are different species. For the former, their wild counterparts are considered relatives, and for the latter, swans. When breeding these animals, novice farmers face the problem of how to distinguish a duckling from a caterpillar, by what signs to sort them. This is important for organizing proper care for them. nine0003

Gray goose - breed description

The offspring of these waterfowl can be distinguished by the following features:

  • goslings are larger than ducklings;
  • they have a short beak, while the drakes have it broad and flat;
  • goose foot longer than duck foot;
  • the body of the gosling and its head are less elongated and flattened.

Important ! At an early age, these breeds are most often distinguished by their beak. If the ducklings and goslings are one month old, then they can be sorted by the length of the neck - the latter have a longer one. nine0003

Tips for farmers

Ural gray goose - description of the breed

Ducks, geese and swans on the farm are distinguished by the length of the neck. In the first birds it is short, in the second it is medium, and in the last birds it is the longest.

The peculiarity of the swan is that it prefers to practically not get out of the water. The goose sits on land half the time, and the ducks prefer to hide in the thickets. Birds can be identified by the sounds they make.

Ducks immediately stand out due to their multicolored coloration and flat beaks. The largest in size are swans. They rarely take food from human hands. nine0003

Geese prefer to move in large flocks, ducks in small groups, and swans in permanent pairs. With a little training, anyone can visually distinguish between these species of waterfowl.

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Goose and duck - who are they and differences

What are the differences between geese and ducks and who they are, not all people can say with accuracy. Many perceive these birds only as the basis for preparing various delicious dishes. So for some countries, it was the duck that became the “calling card”. An example is a Pikin duck for China or a goose with apples for a Russian holiday table. Each of these birds is tamed by humans and breeds well in captivity. nine0003


  1. Definition of concepts
  2. Comparison
  3. Conclusions

Definition of concepts

In order to understand who geese and ducks are, what are the differences between them and whether they exist, you need to define each of the species.

Goose is a bird that belongs to the genus Geese of the Duck family. Included in the order Anseriformes.

Duck is a bird belonging to the Anatidae family. nine0003

Geese and ducks, as can be seen from the above definitions, belong to the same family. All birds are waterfowl and have a body structure characteristic of life in water.


Now you can move on to comparing birds with each other. The goose is a bird of gray or white color (in most cases). Weight varies between 2-4.5 kg. The body length is 0.8-0.9 m. The wingspan is up to 1.8 m. If we consider the gray goose, it will have an unusual wavy gray-brown plumage, while the white representative of this species is pure white, without additional color splashes. There is also a bean goose. Its coloration is wavy gray with white on the belly. Also, geese may have white plumage on the sides or on the neck. nine0003

Ducks are medium-sized birds. They are visually smaller than geese. At the same time, the weight is almost the same and amounts to 3-4 kg for males and up to 3.5 kg for females. If we are talking about a breed of wild duck, then its representatives weigh only 1-2 kg.

The length of the body of a domestic duck is not much more than 0.6 m. There are more than 100 species of ducks in total.

  • Sheldocks.
  • Diving.
  • Musk. nine0006

    Geese can be distinguished from ducks by their brightly colored paws. They are bright orange. Between the fingers there are membranes that are attached closer to the middle. The presence of these formations contributes to the appearance of a specific gait characteristic of geese.

    When comparing geese and ducks, attention should also be paid to the color of their beaks. Geese are characterized by the coincidence of the color of the legs and beak. By structure, they are high and end with a small sharp one, if you touch it with a fingernail. On the inner edge there is a row of teeth. The goose neck is medium in length. Male geese will be larger than females, and a bone tubercle will form on their beak. nine0003

    Both geese and ducks have two types of cover - down and feather. Each of them is lubricated with a special composition necessary for those who lead a waterfowl lifestyle. The composition is secreted by the coccygeal gland. The plumage color of ducks differs depending on the species. Common to all is only the color scheme on the wings. Ducks are characterized by a very clear sexual dimorphism - the division into males and females. Females are inconspicuous in 90% of cases. They are characterized by gray or brown feathers. Drakes (male ducks) are distinguished by bright and catchy colors of feathers. Paws of ducks are yellow. The membranes are present, but they are attached to the last third of the body. That is why birds have a special gait. The neck of ducks is shorter than that of geese. The beak is wide. Each of the bird species has a well-developed down and feather cover. nine0003

    The diet of geese includes plant components such as greens, cereals, seeds, berries. In rare cases, birds may eat insects or vertebrates. Ducks, on the other hand, can include aquatic plants and small spineless ones in the menu. Ducks and geese can be distinguished by the sounds they make. The first quack, the second begin to cackle. A characteristic feature of geese is hissing. Birds publish it only in times of danger.

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