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Why Do Ducks Hiss? Are They Communicating, Or Something More?

The duck is famous for one specific noise: the “quack” that makes them unique among its bird friends and relatives. You may have noticed lately that your flock makes a noise that sounds like a small hiss. So, why do ducks hiss? Are they communicating with each other, or is it something more?

Ducks are extremely territorial and will do what they can to protect their eggs and young. The hissing sound that can be heard occasionally will, most of the time, be a warning to stay away. The other times they are lost and confused, but it is still a sound meant to scare and warn anything that comes within their earshot.

You do not have to worry about a crazy snake coming after you. You have to worry about getting bit by the hissing duck because it is designed to be a warning. You may have bitten off more than you can chew if you ignore it. Let’s dig into this a little deeper to better understand.

When Do Ducks Hiss?

The first time you hear a duck hiss may catch you off guard. But it is a proven fact that all birds hiss when they are put into specific situations. It is not a wonderful sound like the “quack” (which many ducks cannot even do). It is instead a sound that will give you a chill in the back of the neck.

Regardless of the circumstances, pay attention to the hiss when directed at you.

  • Warning – The main reason you would hear a duck hiss is as a warning. They commonly make this noise when they feel threatened or think their mate or young are in danger. Ducks are very protective of their family and home, so the best way to send a warning is to give a chilling hiss before they strike out.
  • Pain – Wild ducks will hiss when they are injured or in pain. The ducks you have as pets will be making this sound to communicate with the one thing that can help them, which is you. The tone of the hiss, along with the body language of the duck, will tell you what type of hiss is coming out.
  • Unknown Location – Believe it or not, ducks get serious anxiety when they are in an unknown location. They like to be in the same area that they feel comfortable in. When they are not, the mental fear will make them hiss, maybe as a warning to potential threats or to vocalize their displeasure with the situation.
  • Overwhelmed – Pet ducks are fun to hold, pet, and even cuddle with. They cannot talk to you, so when they get overwhelmed, they will let out a hiss or two to let you know it is time to back off.
  • Stressed – Ducks can get stressed out just like you can. Maybe their young are creating dangerous situations, or a fox is trying to snatch one for dinner. The more stressed out they get, the more they will hiss.
  • Bored – Just like every other pet or person on the planet, there are times when your duck will be bored. They want to get some attention, so they have something to do. The hiss may not even be directed at you, but you can always go into the duck coop and say hello.

Here’s a video of what a hissing duck may look like:

It will soon become evident when you have been around the ducks in your flock for any length of time. Each hiss will be in a different tone, which will be caused by the current situation.

Your ducks will never hiss at you in remembrance of something that happened a day ago. They live in real-time, and as such, if they hiss, it is because of the situation that is happening right now.

Check out these Duck Feeders and Duck Pellets found on Amazon, along with a couple Toys for Ducks and you’ll have some very happy ducks. And happy ducks make for better tasting eggs.

What To Do When Ducks Hiss

When ducks hiss, they are not simply making noise to annoy you. They are trying to communicate (source) with you since you are the head honcho of the herd. They know that you care for them, so they are trying to let you know what is on their minds.

It is crazy that after having the ducks for a while, you will start understanding what they want. Let’s check out some things to do when ducks hiss at you.

  • Back off and see if the problem was one of getting too close to one of the duck’s protected areas.
  • See if the weather is causing them too many problems.
  • Check to see if a predator has obtained access to an area that should be off-limits to them.
  • Maybe they want their water source, such as a pool, cooled off with fresh water.
  • Maybe they are cold and want the heat lamps in their coop turned on.
  • There is always the possibility that they missed you and are excited to see you.

Learning the sounds and tones of your ducks is imperative if you want to continue having a good relationship with them. Whether you like it or not, you became their lead duck when you adopted them into your life.

They look up to you for many things, including their health and happiness. It may be difficult at first, but you will soon figure out what they are trying to say.


The hiss of a duck will catch you off-guard every time, no matter how many times it has been heard. It is not something you would think would come out of a duck’s beak. The great thing is that the more you listen to it and the more time you spend with your feathered friends, the easier it will be to communicate with them.

They will make numerous sounds to get your attention and speak to you. The spine-chilling hiss is only one of them. You must listen to figure out their needs, wants, and desires. Once you have reached that level of trust with your birds, they will truly become a part of your family.

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