Muscovy Duck Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) makes a popular domesticated bird but is known rather poorly in the wild lowland habitats. They are typically found in the Central and South America including Mexico. It is one of the rare ducks that have wattles on their beaks. Muscovy ducks have long claws. They are considered to be the oldest fowls to have domesticated dating back to the time of Spanish explorers. The duck also called Barbary duck.

Muscovy Duck Facts


  • Adult wild ducks are mainly recognized by their brownish-black plumages with sharp claws and long tail.
  • The upperparts are iridescent green.
  • It is thought to be the largest duck species in North America.
  • The average length of wild species measures about 66 to 84 cm (26 to 33 in) with the wingspan reaching up to 137 to 152 cm (54 to 60 in). They weigh up to 1.1–4.1 kg (2.4–9.0 lb) in average weight.
  • The true wild duck is not white like domesticated species. In fact it is all black with white wing patches.
  • They have black bill and feet and a short crest on the Muscovy’s neck.
  • Males are larger than females but both are quite similar in plumages.
  • Male Muscovy is known as ‘drake’ whereas female is called ‘hen’. Drakes are thought to produce low calls while females have a coo-like voice.
muscovy duck facts
Muscovy Duck ©

Range & Habitat of Muscovy ducks

  • Muscovy ducks occur in large numbers in most parts of United States including Mexico and Central America. They are mostly found in Texas, Florida, and Rio Grande Valley, and North America. Muscovy’s range extends as far as southern Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • In Mexico, Muscovy ducks live in the tropical lowlands and coastal slopes of Sinalao, central Nuevo Leon, and Yucatan Peninsula.
  • The wild Muscovy makes home in a wide variety of wet habitats such as grasslands, streams, lakes, farm crops, and forested swamps.

Feeding Ecology & Diet of Muscovy ducks

  • Muscovy ducks are likely to feed on plants in shallow water but they also eat crustaceans, millipedes, amphibians, insects, small reptiles and fish.
  • They are able to survive in cold climates of −12 °C (10 °F).
  • Young ducks rely on grass, small insects, corn, and grains.
  • The Muscovy duck is a non-migratory species. They do not quack like a typically duck.
muscovy duck facts
Muscovy Duck ©

Reproductive Biology

  • Muscovy ducks are observed mating in water as well as on land. The domesticated species breed 3 times per year.
  • The female duck lays 8 – 16 eggs in a single clutch. She lays eggs in a hollow which serves as a nest.
  • The female incubates the eggs for up to 35 days. The hen may leave the eggs unattended when she must eat something or take sunbath.
  • It takes one complete day for all the chicks to come out of their shells.
  • Chicks remain with their mother for as long as 3 months. The mother will still keep a close eye on all of them for several weeks.
  • Drakes will fight over females and territories. Females on the other hand are less likely to fight with each other.

Conservation Status

  • Least Concern

Express yourself about the animals

Latest from Birds

Follow Us