During the research of this topic, I realized that there are different opinions about whether ducks can smell food and I found very interesting arguments and studies.
Generally, for us humans it is a little difficult to analyze or conceptualising a subject that is outside our nature.
Although animals, including ducks, are biological beings just like us, on many occasions their senses and abilities may seem a little difficult to understand because of the differences in relation to us.
What I mean is, yes, ducks can smell food, as well as perceive other smells, but they do it in a very different from other birds or mammals. Ducks do not use the nostrils located in their beaks to sniff, but rather use them differently and perceive the sense of smell through sound.
This form of smell is directly related to a natural sense that ducks have called “magnetic smell”.
How does a duck's sense of smell work?
Ducks have visible nostrils located at the top of their beaks, these nostrils allow them to breathe and also smell, but their sense of smell works in a very special way that might seem incredible to us.
Analyses have discovered that olfactory cavities in ducks exist, but not to contain an olfactory organ: their cavity has a particular shape as a disperser of a sound pulse that the duck emits from its vocal cords.
This function allows the duck to “smell” with ultrasound, behaving like a mass spectrometer and would explain why in closed environments the olfactory effectiveness of ducks is reduced.
The magnetic sense of smell
The magnetic sense in animals is the capacity of organisms to perceive a magnetic field, for example, to orient themselves with the help of the magnetic field of the earth (orientation of the magnetic field, magnetotaxis).
Living beings of all levels of organization (bacteria, algae, higher plants, protozoa, flatworms, insects, mollusks and vertebrates) presumably have a magnetic sense, but little research has been done on their functioning.
In most cases, the magnetic sense is not only used for orientation, but its information is combined with that of other detailed directional indications (e.g., gravity, sunlight and starlight, odor, infrasound, atmospheric pressure [atmosphere], ultraviolet, and polarization of light [polarization vision]).
In some animal species, for example, migratory birds such as ducks, the ability to determine direction through the magnetic sense is innate. This same skill is also used to locate food.
How do ducks search for food in nature?
Ducks in the wild usually seek their food by dipping their head in the water (the head is in the water, the tail and the trunk are raised vertically).
But also on the shores and most other sites, they search for food not just in the daytime but usually at night as well. The wild duck is practically omnivorous, however its diet is primarily vegetarian, living on aquatic plant as well as various small animals.
Ducks have special senses
Wild animals, like ducks in nature, have a special instinct, a high level of sensitivity, combined with the psychological powers of telepathy, certain premonitions, tangible perceptions, innate instincts and super-fast reactions.
Birds also have a magnetic sense (the so-called biological compass), which not only provides them with navigation skills and precise position determination, but probably also with a constantly updated “weather forecast”.
Animals like ducks do not rely on hidden forces, probabilities, coincidences or just good luck.
Modern behavioral research (ethology) has investigated many patterns of behavior and more. Hereditary and (newly) acquired behaviors were pointed out repeatedly.
It still continues to be a great unsolved puzzle.
In a slightly different context, the recent scientific publications speak of a special “magnetic sense of migratory birds”.
Migratory birds, to which ducks also belong to a greater or lesser extent, can use light receptors – these are light-sensitive molecules in the nerve cells of the eyes (retina, retina) – to scan or perceive the earth’s magnetic field as a visual network and thus recognize it accurately (photoreceptor – Theory).
During their flights and migrations, birds orient themselves according to the magnetic fields of the earth, orient themselves to the sun, moon and stars, can distinguish between structures in the landscape and react to the constant rotation of the globe.
However, one of the most important navigation instruments is their innate instinct, of which we know very little, combined with the additional experiences gained in the course of life.