Muscovy Duck – Cairina moschata



Wild Muscovies are black and white, but with breeding there are different colour varieties, from iridescent green, brown, blues and lavender plumage. They have large, strong clawed feet which they use for roosting in trees, and they are webbed for swimming. Their faces are bare and bright red, or red and black, and the drakes have pronounced carnacules at the base of their bills and a low erectile crest of feathers.

They feed on small invertebrates and plant material. Nests are usually made in the hollow of a tree where they lay between 8 to 21 eggs in a clutch. They breed three times a year. Muscovies do not swim as much as other ducks due to the fact that their oil glands are not as well-developed as other species. They can live for up to 8 years.

Seen all year round, they are found in ponds, rivers and streams. Native to Mexico, Central and South America, and was introduced to Europe and the UK some centuries ago as domesticated farm produce, from which they are commonly called ‘Barbary Ducks’. Although they are a tropical species they do fairly well in colder climes.