Duck Can Be Heard Saying ‘You Bloody Fool’ In Scientific First

by : Niamh Shackleton on :
Duck Can Be Heard Saying 'You Bloody Fool' In Scientific FirstGuardian Australia/YouTube

Apparently ducks can talk, and there’s video evidence to prove it.

Now, we all know our feathered friend the parrot can mimic human speech, but a duck in an Australian nature reserve copied a phrase it heard a caretaker say.


The duck, named Ripper, lived at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Experts in Canberra, Australia, and successfully learned how to say – or rather mimic to sound like –  ‘you bloody fool’.

It’s believed that this is the first documented insistence of a duck mimicking sounds.

Check it out:


Not only did Ripper manage to utter the comical phrase, but it also mimicked the sound of a door closing – and it’s quite impressive.

Carel ten Cate from Leiden University in the Netherlands, who studies vocal learning in birds, has since verified the recording, and explained that he thought it was a joke when he first got wind of Ripper’s unique talent.

To make sure it was true, ten Cate got in touch with now-retired Australian scientist Peter J. Fullagar, who first noticed that musk ducks could mimic speech many years ago.

Fullagar shared the clips he took of then-four-year-old Ripper he recorded more that 30 years ago, along with another clip he acquired demonstrating a second example of a duck at the same reserve doing the same.

Duck talks into mic (PA)PA Images

Speaking of the unique findings, ten Cate told New Scientist:

When I first heard these stories I thought, ‘Oh this must be a really good joke,’ but actually they come from respected scientists and birdkeepers, and the reports are very reliable. Apparently, these ducks are learning something about vocalisations starting at a very young age.


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Since the recordings of Ripper and the other duck have been shared with ten Cate, he’s discovered more instances of captive musk ducks talking, but this time in the UK.


According to ten Cate, the British ducks made sounds ‘like a snorting pony, a coughing caretaker and a squeaky door’.

It’s now believed that musk ducks join parrots, hummingbirds, certain songbirds, whales, seals, bats, elephants and humans as vocal language learners, New Scientist reports.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Animals, Australia, Duck, Now, Science


New Scientist
  1. New Scientist

    Listen to an Australian duck say ‘you bloody fool’ like a human