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Indian Runner Ducks And Their Unique Upright Stance

Indian Runner Ducks

The Indian Runner Duck is a domestic duck species with an upright posture, originating from Southeast Asia. Bred for eggs and meat, they are agile on land and enthusiastic foragers. They come in a variety of colors and plumage patterns from black to various browns to white.

Let’s discover more interesting facts about them!


Who Are They?

The Indian Runner Duck is a distinct breed of domestic duck known for their upright posture and variable plumage.

They are characterized by their tall, slim build, resembling a wine bottle or a bowling pin.

The origin of Indian Runner Ducks can be traced back to Southeast Asia to the Indonesian archipelago. Records suggest that the breed has been around for around two thousand years.

They were brought to Europe and America during the 19th century, but some evidence suggests that some were brought in even earlier. Initially, these ducks were used for egg production, and their ability to lay a large number of eggs made them popular among farmers. They were also used as pest control and raised for their meat.

Over time, Indian Runner Ducks have been selectively bred for various traits, including egg production and show qualities. They come in various color varieties, including fawn, white, black, chocolate, and more.


Can you tell a female Indian Runner Duck from a male?

Telling the difference between males and females is sometimes easier, sometimes trickier. It can get quite confusing, especially considering all the color variants.

The specific varieties and standards can vary depending on the breeding standards of different regions. However, here are most of the accepted and described varieties: black, chocolate, Cumberland blue, fawn, blue dusky and apricot, fawn and white (there’s a distinction between European and American variants), Mallard, silver, trout, blue trout, apricot trout, and white.

In some color varieties, males and females have slight to noticeable differences in plumage pattern. For example, fawn drakes have a dark head, neck, and chest and pale undersides whereas fawn ducks are warm ginger overall. On the other hand, the plumage of males and females in other varieties does not have any distinct differences. This includes the black, chocolate, Cumberland blue, and white varieties.

However, when it comes to the latter, then there are still some ways to tell the sexes apart. Males are larger than females and have larger, longer, and more widely spaced legs and feet.

Young male Indian Runner Ducks also grow faster than females, so you can tell their sex quite early on. Drakes develop curled tail feathers once they reach sexual maturity. On the other hand, young females get their feathers quicker than males. Females give normal duck-like quacks whereas males make higher-pitched raspy-sounding quacks.


Can you find Indian Runner Ducks in the wilderness?

Indian Runner Ducks are a domesticated breed of duck, descended from the wild Mallard duck. Currently, there are no reports of feral or wild populations existing in nature. They are an entirely domestic breed that relies on human care and management.

If you happen to see any Indian Runner Ducks out in the wild, then they somehow escaped or were most likely dumped there. Contact your nearest wildlife or waterfowl rescue to deal with them. There is a high chance that the ducks will not make it on their own.


Do Indian Runner Ducks Fly?

As previously mentioned, the Indian Runner Ducks have a unique body posture. Unlike many other duck breeds that have a more horizontal stance, Indian Runner Ducks stand fairly upright, typically holding themselves at a 45-75-degree angle. When agitated or alert, they can even stand fully upright.

Related: Are all ducks capable of flying?

Originating from the Indonesian islands, Indian Runner Ducks were bred for eggs and meat and were walked to the market. This probably contributed to their evolution and upright posture.

Their pelvic girdle and legs are situated more toward the tail region and they have short thigh bones. This enables them to stay upright, like penguins, and walk or run instead of waddle.

Indian Runner Ducks are agile and fast on land, but unfortunately, this specialization comes with a drawback. Their wings are small, especially compared to their bodies, and they are unable to fly. While they may be capable of short bursts or hops over low barriers, then they lack the wings required for sustained flight.


Fun Facts About Indian Runner Ducks

  • Indian Runner Ducks are very friendly and docile, albeit more timid and skittish than other domestic ducks. They are always alert to their surroundings. If you want them to be accustomed to humans, then you need to handle them a lot as ducklings.
  • They are independent foragers who like to spend their time actively foraging. This makes them great for insect control. Historically, farmers would herd large flocks of Indian Runners to clean rice paddies of pests.
  • Indian Runner Ducks are prolific egg layers that can produce over 300 eggs in a year. However, they do not incubate the eggs and leave them lying around to hatch on their own. The eggs need to be incubated artificially or be placed into the nest of another duck species. Hens rarely get broody but even when they do, then they do not have good maternal instincts.
  • Indian Runner Ducks are flock birds and are happier in groups. They tend to synchronize their movements in a group, making them easy to herd.
  • Indian Runner Ducks have various color varieties that were bred into the species over time. To uphold and promote these distinct characteristics, there are dedicated clubs and associations focused on establishing standardized descriptions and guidelines for competitions that assess the appearance of Indian Runner Ducks. Interestingly, the standards for Indian Runner Ducks set by English and American breeders diverged in 1915.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Indian runner duck known for?

Indian Runner Ducks are known for their upright posture and running instead of waddling.

Do Indian Runner ducks make noise?

Indian Runner Ducks quack and give hoarse whispering croaks.

Are runner ducks louder than chickens?

Runner Ducks are a relatively quiet breed compared to other ducks.

Can Indian Runner ducks mate with other ducks?

Indian Runner Ducks may mate with other domestic duck species.

Can runner ducks live alone?

Indian Runner Ducks are very social and prefer to be kept in flocks rather than alone because they can get stressed. At least two or three birds are recommended.

Do Indian Runner ducks lay eggs?

Indian Runner Ducks lay 300-350 eggs per year on average.

Can you mix runner ducks with chickens?

You can mix Indian Runner Ducks with chickens, but you need to ensure that you have enough space for them.

How can you tell if a runner duck is male or female?

You can tell if a runner duck is male or female by their body size and proportions, vocalizations, and depending on the color variant also plumage. Males are larger with larger feet and thicker legs while females are more vocal and quack.

About the Author

Heleen Roos

Heleen has loved the outdoors and nature since childhood and has always been fascinated with birds, leading her to research more about them. She has accumulated a lot of knowledge about their behaviors and habits through birdwatching tours and her own explorations. Her goal is to share the most interesting and useful facts about them.

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