When it comes to waterfowl, two that often get confused are the pato (duck) and the ganso (goose). While they may share similarities, there are key differences that set them apart. In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of these birds and explore their distinguishing characteristics.
Pato: The Aquatic Wanderer
A Family of Anatidae
Pato, a member of the Anatidae family, specifically the subfamily Anatinae genus Anas, is a water bird with exceptional agility on water. However, their land movements can be quite clumsy. With their wide and flat bills, patos come in a variety of plumage colors depending on the species.
Patos are social birds, often seen in pairs or groups, spending their days foraging for food. At night, they huddle together for sleep. There are both wild and domesticated varieties of ducks. Domesticated ducks are smaller in size, have shorter necks, and display white or yellow feathers. They are known for their docile nature.
On the other hand, wild ducks tend to be more aggressive. The males have gray or brown plumage with vibrant green feathers on their necks. They have distinctive white rings around their necks and chests. Female wild ducks are smaller and colored in a combination of white, brown, and black, allowing them to blend seamlessly with their surroundings while protecting their offspring.
Anserinae and Tadorninae Families
Also known as ocas, gansos belong to the Anatidae family, specifically the subfamilies Anserinae and Tadorninae. These water birds, found in lakes, rivers, dams, and sometimes estuaries, marshes, and sandy coasts, are known for their energetic and powerful flights.
Domesticated and Wild Varieties
Similar to patos, gansos also exist in both domesticated and wild forms. Domesticated gansos originated from Asia and Western Europe, and now can be found in farms and households worldwide. They prefer open forests, wetlands, cultivated fields, and low-mountains surrounding bodies of water. Gansos live in flocks, choosing areas abundant in food. They form lifelong pairs and separate into small family groups when rearing their young.
Distinguishing Pato from Ganso
- Both patos and gansos belong to the Anatidae family alongside swans. However, patos belong to the subfamily Anatinae, while gansos belong to the subfamilies Anserinae and Tadorninae.
- Gansos emit a distinct honking sound similar to a horn.
- Patos produce a shrill quack.
- Gansos share the responsibility of incubating their eggs between both male and female.
- Patos have the female solely responsible for caring for the hatchlings and incubating the eggs.
Gansos have larger, webbed feet compared to patos.
Adult male gansos are known as “frascos,” while their young are called “ansarones.”
Gansos consume a larger quantity of plants, preferring leafy greens over insects and fish.
Gansos molt their feathers once a year.
Gansos can nest in tree holes.
Gansos typically have elegant appearances with long necks, and they come in shades of gray, black, or white.
Adult male patos are referred to as “dracos,” and their young are called “patitos.”
Patos nest among tall grass.
Patos undergo two molting cycles per year.
Patos can inhabit both freshwater and saltwater environments, consuming plants, small fish, insects, and mollusks found within.
Patos display a range of colors depending on the species.
Pato’s necks are shorter, and their bodies are more compact compared to gansos.
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So, the next time you encounter a waterfowl, you’ll be able to confidently identify whether it’s a pato or a ganso. Happy bird watching!