WATER FOWL

MUSCOVY DUCKS

Photo: Eflon

The term "Muscovy" means "from the Moscow region", but these ducks are neither native there nor were they introduced there before they became known in Western Europe. It is not quite clear how the term came about; it very likely originated between 1550 and 1600, but did not become widespread until somewhat later.

This species, like the Mallard, does not form stable pairs. They will mate on land or in water. Domesticated Muscovy Ducks can breed up to three times each year. The hen lays a clutch of 8-16 white eggs, which are incubated for 35 days.

All Muscovy Ducks have long claws on their feet and a wide flat tail. In the domestic drake (male), length is about 86 cm and weight is 4.6–6.8 kg, while the domestic hen (female) is much smaller, at 64 cm in length and 2.7–3.6 kg in weight. Large domesticated males often weigh up to 8 kg, and large domesticated females up to 5 kg.

The bird is predominantly black and white, with the back feathers being iridescent and glossy in males, while the females are more drab. The amount of white on the neck and head is variable, as well as the bill, which can be yellow, pink, black, or any mixture of these. They may have white patches or bars on the wings, which become more noticeable during flight. Both sexes have pink or red wattles around the bill, those of the male being larger and more brightly colored.

Although the Muscovy Duck is a tropical bird, it adapts well to cooler climates, thriving in weather as cold as –12°C (10°F) and able to survive even colder conditions.

Suitability Scale (out of 5)

Egg Laying:
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Backyard Suitability
Size of Bird: Drake 4.6–6.8 kg kg | Hen 2.7–3.6 kg

Rare coloured muscovy ducks - white hatched ducklings
Rare coloured muscovy ducks - white hatched ducklings
Muscovy Ducklings
Muscovy Ducklings
Muscovy Ducks
Muscovy Ducks
Muscovy Duck
Muscovy Duck
Muscovy Duck
Muscovy Duck


See article relating to our rare coloured white hatched muscovy ducklings here

PEKIN DUCKS

Pekin Ducks Photo: Samantha Munro

Pekin duck is a breed of domesticated duck used primarily for egg and meat production. It was bred from the Mallard in China. The ancestors of those ducks originated from the canals which linked waterways in Nanjing and originally had small bodies and black feathers. With the relocation of the Chinese capital to Beijing, supply barge traffic increased in the area which would often spill grain on which the ducks fed. Over time, the ducks slowly increased in size and grew white feathers. By the Five Dynasties, the new breed of duck had been domesticated by Chinese farmers.

Fully mature adult Pekin ducks weigh between 8 and 11 pounds (3.6 and 5 kilograms) in captivity. Their average lifespan (if not eaten at an early age) is about 9 to 12 years. Their external feathers are white sometimes with a yellowish tinge. This is more obvious with ducks that have been reared indoors and not exposed to sunlight. The ducks have a more upright stance than dabbling ducks, and possess an upturned rump. The eyes of this duck appear to be black when seen far away, but up-close one sees a grayish-blue colored iris.

An adult Pekin will lay an average of 200 eggs per year if it does not try to, or is prevented from, hatching them. They will normally only lay one egg on any given day.

Pekin ducks are less "broody" than other ducks which means they will incubate eggs less frequently and they are more likely to abandon their nest before their eggs hatch. Hens can be used to sit on the duck eggs, or they can be incubated artificially.

Pekin ducks, for the most part, are too heavy to get airborne. While some individual ducks may be lighter and capable of short bursts of vertical flight, clipping their flight feathers is generally unnecessary. They are gregarious and will usually group together with other ducks.

As precocial birds, Pekin ducks make ideal companion animals for a variety of reasons. As a duck imprints on a human, the bond of trust that develops rivals that of humans and dogs, for example, and can provide enduring companionship if they are not surrounded by other ducks. Pekin ducks are very intelligent, and are capable of lifelong strong and loyal bonds with humans, and often then prefer human company over the company of other ducks.

Suitability Scale (out of 5)

Egg Laying:
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Backyard Suitability
Size of Bird: Drake 5 kg | Hen 3.6 kg

Pekin Ducks Photos: Samantha Munro
Pekin Ducks Photos: Samantha Munro
Pekin Ducks Photos: Samantha Munro
Pekin Ducks Photos: Samantha Munro
Pekin Ducks Photos: Samantha Munro
Pekin Ducks Photos: Samantha Munro
Pekin Ducks Photos: Samantha Munro
Pekin Ducks Photos: Samantha Munro
Pekin Ducks Photos: Samantha Munro
Pekin Ducks Photos: Samantha Munro

MALLARD DUCKS

Photo: Richard Bartz

The Mallard is a medium-sized waterfowl species, although is often slightly heavier than most other dabbling ducks. It is 50–65 cm long (of which the body makes up around two-thirds), has a wingspan of 81–98 cm, and weighs 0.72–1.58 kg.

The male birds (drakes) have a glossy green head and are grey on wings and belly, while the females have mainly brown-speckled plumage. Mallards live in wetlands, eat water plants and small animals, and are gregarious. This species is the ancestor of most breeds of domestic ducks.

Both male and female Mallards have distinct iridescent purple blue speculum feathers edged with white, prominent in flight or at rest, though temporarily shed during the annual summer moult. The centre tail feather is curled for males (called a drake feather), straight for females.

Suitability Scale (out of 5)

Egg Laying:
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Backyard Suitability
Size of Bird: Drake 1.6 kg | Hen 0.72 kg


EMBDEN GEESE


The Embden Goose is a breed of domestic goose. The origins of this breed are thought to be from region North Sea, in Holland and Germany. The eminent author Lewis Wright wrote around 1900 was of the opinion that they originated from the town of Emden in Lower Saxony, Germany, although Edward Brown in his 1906 Races of Domestic Poultry believed that the breed was created by crossing the German White with the English White and then, by a process of careful selections, creating the goose as it is today. Others suggest that the English Embden's great weight and size was produced by selective breeding with the Toulouse breed, which was then bred out leaving the large size of this breed.

The breed is pure white with a short, light orange bill, and orange feet and shanks. They are fast growing birds and will quickly reach about 9 kg (20 lb) for the Goose, and 14 kg (30 lb) for the Gander. The Embden's legs are fairly short. The head is oval-shaped and they have a long and graceful neck. The eyes are an ocean blue. The body is bulky and well rounded, having a long back and a short tail. The wings are very strong and of a good length. The feathers are close and very hard.

They are a very hardy breed and don't mind fairly mild sub-zero temperatures. Males are more vocal than females and can often be heard honking loudly if approached but geese in general talk quietly throughout the day. Embden geese that are accustomed to their owners presence don't mind being in close proximity but tend to keep their distance. When cornered or defending their nest male or female geese will try to warn away predators by loudly hissing at them and ruffling their feathers. If provoked, especially in an enclosed area their strong wings can be used as a weapon. Being domesticated they can fly but don't migrate.

A Embden goose matures in about 2–3 years and will start to look for a mate for life. The adult bird will commence laying eggs fairly early in the year, in February as a rule, laying 30 to 40 eggs. The goose starts incubating the eggs around the beginning of spring for about 28–34 days.

Suitability Scale (out of 5)

Egg Laying:
Egg Size:
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Backyard Suitability
Size of Bird: Gander 12 kg | Goose 9 kg

Embden Gosling
Embden Gosling
Embden Geese
Embden Geese

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