The Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck native to the Americas. Although it 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.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
An omnivore is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and ani...
Semiaquatic animals are those that are primarily or partly terrestrial but that spend a large amount of time swimming or otherwise occupied in wate...
Waterfowl are certain wildfowl of the order Anseriformes, especially members of the family Anatidae, which includes ducks, geese, and swans. They ...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
Grazing is a method of feeding in which a herbivore feeds on plants such as grasses, or other multicellular organisms such as algae. In agriculture...
Natatorial animals are those adapted for swimming. Some fish use their pectoral fins as the primary means of locomotion, sometimes termed labriform...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Congregatory animals tend to gather in large numbers in specific areas as breeding colonies, for feeding, or for resting.
Oviparous animals are female animals that lay their eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother. This is the reproductive...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
A dominance hierarchy (formerly and colloquially called a pecking order) is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social gr...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Domesticated animals are those adapted to live with humans. It is the mutual relationship between animals and humans who have an influence on their...
Muscovy ducks are large birds. They are 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, the males and the females of this species have pink or red wattles around the bill, those of the male being larger and more brightly colored.
Muscovy ducks are found in Mexico and Central and South America. Small wild and feral breeding populations occur in the United States, particularly in Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas as well as in many other parts of North America, including southern Canada. Feral Muscovy ducks are also found in New Zealand, Australia, and parts of Europe. These birds usually inhabit wet forests, forested swamps, wetlands, lakes, rivers, streams, and nearby grassland and farm crops.
Muscovy ducks are agile and speedy birds. They are non-migratory and are active during the day; at night birds often roost in trees. Days are spent feeding by grazing on the ground or dabbling in shallow water. Muscovy ducks are social birds; they are often seen in pairs or small groups. They are aggressive ducks; males often fight over food, territory, or mates. The females fight with each other less often. Some adults will even peck at the ducklings if they are eating at the same food source. In order to communicate with each other, Muscovy ducks wag their tails, raise and lower their heads and use various vocalizations including hisses and quacks. Males have a low breathy call, and females produce a quiet trilling coo.
Muscovy ducks are polygynous and do not form stable pairs. The dominant male mates only with those females that nest in his territory. The breeding usually takes place from August to May. The female lays a clutch of 8-16 white eggs, usually in a tree hole or hollow, which are incubated for 35 days. During incubation the female leaves her nest once a day to drink water, eat, and sometimes bathe. Once the eggs begin to hatch it may take 24 hours for all the ducklings to break through their shells. Ducklings are born precocial (fully developed). For the first few weeks of their lives, they feed on grains, corn, grass, insects, and almost anything that moves. Their mother instructs them at an early age how to feed. Often, the male will stay in close contact with the brood for several weeks. The male will walk with the young during their normal travels in search of food, providing protection. Ducklings usually stay with their mother for around 60 to 70 days, until they become independent. Female Muscovy ducks reach reproductive maturity at 28 weeks of age while males become reproductively mature when they are 29 weeks old.
The main threats to Muscovy ducks include hunting, egg-collecting, and habitat loss. Another threat to the wild species comes from the hybridization with domestic birds.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Muscovy duck population size is 50,000-499,999 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
Muscovy ducks are important in their habitats as predators of aquatic and terrestrial vegetation and animals, thus controlling their populations. These birds are also an important food source for local predators.
Muscovy ducks had been domesticated by various Native American cultures in the Americas when Columbus arrived in the Bahamas. The first few were brought onto the Columbus ship Santa Maria they then sailed back to Europe by the 16th century. Muscovy ducks have been domesticated for centuries, and are widely traded as "Barbary duck". Muscovy breeds are popular because they have stronger-tasting meat than the usual domestic ducks. Muscovy ducks are also less noisy and sometimes marketed as a "quackless" duck. Domesticated Muscovy ducks often have plumage features differing from other wild birds. White breeds are preferred for meat production, as darker ones can have much melanin in the skin, which some people find unappealing.