(Cairina moschata) (“Pato mudo”or mute duck in Spanish) (“Barbary duck” in culinary speak)
The Muscovy is native to the Americas, where many Indigenous peoples domesticated them into backyard flocks beginning in pre-Colombian times. Feral Muscovy ducks are still found in New Zealand, Australia, and in parts of Europe.
It is a large duck, with the males about 30 inches long, and weighing up to 15 pounds. Females are considerably smaller, and only grow to 6.5 pounds. The classic Muscovy is predominantly black and white, with the back feathers being iridescent and glossy in males, while the females are more drab. They also are known for the bumpy red caruncles on their faces. In my flock, the caruncles are minimal to non existent and my colors range from white, cream, chocolate with pied, rippled and barred markings.
Muscovy aren’t “really” a duck because they don’t come from Mallards, like every other breed of duck.
Other unique things about Muscovies…
*They don’t quack! This is wonderful because it makes them an ideal member of your backyard flock. The only sound they make is kind of a hiss. Not loud and angry like a goose. More like a “Pssst”.
*They lay about 120 eggs per year, beginning in the Spring.
*They can fly high and far! I’ve woken up to find them in my second story balcony, waiting for me to feed them. If you want them to remain grounded, clip one wing.
*They are natural mothers! My original flock of 5 came from a friend whose farm was involved in the 2020 CZU fire in Santa Cruz County. When he had to evacuate a Mama on her nest got left behind (they like to hide nests) and when he was able to return to his burnt out property 30 days later, there she was with 6 babies! They came to live with me and I fell in love. I mean, she sat that nest while flames licked the barn she was in! That earned her the name Persephone. If you’re interested in breeding, mine each hatched clutches of a dozen in their first year.
* like chickens, they like to roost at night. The higher the better. They have very sharp claws that allow them to do this.
*unlike any ducks I’ve ever had, these are trainable. They’re very smart and recognize things I’m doing. I’ve even worked with a few of them to come running when called, and eat out of my hand.
True love, I tell you!