Why Are Ducklings Yellow? 3 Reasons with Breeds

Why Are Ducklings Yellow

Farming Base (farmingbase.com) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to them.

We are so accustomed to seeing yellow ducks in cartoons and storybooks that we actually believe that ducks are yellow.

In actuality, we hardly see any yellow ducks roaming around or swimming in the pond. That’s why do not believe everything on TV to be true, ducklings can be of other colors as well.

Though yellow is a cute color for ducks, it is rare as well. It is one of the reasons why you do not see yellow ducks often.

If you want to purchase a duckling for the farm or just for the property, you would want to know what options you have.

What colors can you get, duck breeds, and there is a lot to consider when buying a duck.

Though color is the least bit of concern for some aspiring owners, still, it will be a pleasant sight observing ducks of different colors on the property.

Besides yellow rubber ducks, some actual duck breeds can also turn out to be yellow when born.

Later, once the transformation happens or as they age, ducklings change colors. In this guide, you will get a detailed answer to why are ducklings yellow?

Why Are Ducklings Yellow?

Yellow ducklings are rare, however, if luck favors, ducks are born yellow but change the color later in life.

Some duck breeds produce yellow-colored ducklings. Besides television and storybooks, Pekin ducks are blamed for the widely believed phenomenon that ducklings are yellow.

So, because of certain breeds and genetics, ducklings turn out to be yellow when born.

According to Arizona State University, Owing to genetics, the yellow color pigment in their body gives the feathers this unique color. Some ducklings born yellow change color and turn out to be white as they mature.

Ducks are mostly white or brown in color.

Since most people fantasize about ducks being yellow as they usually see similar colored ducks on TV, they have a hard time believing that ducks can be of any other color. Not all ducks are born yellow, only certain breeds.

Ducklings having yellow color contain a pigment on their feathers responsible for giving this rare color.

Each individual feather accumulated to give the distinct yellow color.

Besides pigmentation, some duck breeds are yellow in color due to genetic inheritance.

They produce ducklings of the same color, however, it is unlikely to find them easily.

Certain wild duck breeds also come in yellow color, however, not entirely yellow but with the addition of some other colors.

Related Do Ducks Have Tongues?

Why Are Ducklings Yellow When They Are Born?

Domesticated breeds often have yellow down, either because of selective breeding or they belong to a specific breed.

Not all yellow ducklings retain the color throughout their life, the transformation happens to change the yellow-colored down to white-colored plumage.

There could be a couple of reasons for this, which are.

Specific Breeds

Like other species, ducks have different breeds as well. Breed and genetic behavior determine the color of the duck.

One of the popular breeds that produce yellow ducks is Pekin. These ducks do not have yellow skin but feathers. All the feathers collectively form the yellow color.


Ducklings born yellow do not stay the same throughout their life. They change color as they grow up.

Some yellow ducklings change color into white while others do not. Apart from yellow, ducklings are mostly white and brown.

Specific Breeds With Yellow Ducklings

Breed and lineage have an important role to play in giving ducks their signature color. Some of the breeds that produce yellow ducklings are

American Pekin

American Pekin resembles the ducks you see on television. Ducklings are bright yellow when born and later change color to white.

Pekin is the popular domesticated duck breed in the world and is heavily farmed due to many unique qualities.

Their history dates back to 1872 when a farmer from Connecticut brought them from China.

Originated from China, these are large-sized ducks with white feathers and an orange bill. Pekin ducks have a similar yellow color like you see in advertisements.

As the Pekin grows up, the yellow fuzz is replaced by creamy white feathers. The orange shanks or legs retain the original color their entire life.

The transformation to all-white plumage of domestic Pekin ducks is caused by a single recessive mutation to the MITF gene that regulates melanin production.

They make good pets and have a nice temperament.

German Pekin

The German Pekin has a similar Chinese heritage as American Pekin. After hundreds of years, these two breeds have evolved greatly and gone through plenty of modifications in their respective countries.

Though these two breeds are quite different from each other now, however, like American Pekin, they have the yellow tint.

Ducklings of this breed are also yellow but not as bright as the American variant. With the help of selective breeding, this color can be achieved.

Call Duck

This small-sized, all-white duck breed can be a great barnyard companion for your kids.

These duck species, especially Call Duck and Snow Call Duck produce yellow ducklings.

This adorable little duck looks like coming straight from the cartoons. It resembles a soft plush toy with compact cuteness and a short break.

As Call Ducks age, they transform to various colors like apricot, bibbed, black, blue-fawn, dark-silver, magpie, pied, silver, and white.

As the breed continues to develop through selective breeding, more and more colors are becoming common and popular.

Related Is Duck a Mammal? (4 Reasons to Compare)

Are Wild Ducklings Yellow?

Some of the domesticated duck breeds can produce yellow ducklings what about wild ducklings? Though they are difficult to find, wild ducklings can be yellow.

Many wild ducklings by birth have brighter or dull yellow feathers. Sometimes, the brighter yellow feathers turn dull and the color vanishes with time.

The distinct yellow color turns brown or whitish as the duck grows old. This happens with many duck species, they are born yellow but later turn white or some other color.

Can Mallards Have Yellow Ducklings?

Mallard is a popular duck species and is believed to be the ancestor of many domesticated duck breeds.

Unlike some of its modern successors, mallard ducklings are only partially yellow. Upon hatching, these ducklings have little patches of yellow on the underside and face. Besides these yellow markings, there are some yellow spots all the way to the top and back of the head. Read more about Do Mallard Ducks Mate for Life?

Why Do Yellow Ducklings Change Color?

Not many breeds hold the yellow color throughout their life. Even though some ducklings are born yellow, they turn brown or white later in life.

The most common colors are brown and white. On contrary to popular belief, yellow is a rare color for a duck. This change in color happens due to mutation or some other factors.

Why Do Ducklings Have Different Color?

Ducklings have different colors varying between yellow, brown, and white. The reason why some ducklings are yellow, whereas others are brown or white is because of genetic inheritance.

Genetics, mutation, the presence of pigments, and many other factors are responsible for any variation of color in ducks.

Breeds Not Having Yellow ducklings

Some breeds are brown, white, or have patterned colors. Not all breeds have rich pigment for yellow color, these breeds are

Mallard – Mallard ducks are brown and speckled with green heads, grey wings, and breast feathers along with yellow markings.

Muscovy – This easier-to-find duck breed has a light-colored head with a dark body. Ducklings may have some yellow markings along with some darker colors.

American Wigeon – American Wigeon is quite similar to the Mallard in appearance. Their body is mostly brown with green color plumage on the head and cream-colored stripe running from its bill to the head.


To sum up, not all ducklings are yellow, only a few breeds produce yellow ducklings owing to their genes and presence of pigments. Only certain breeds rich in pigment have a yellow color.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.