Duck facts

PUBLISHED: 11:09 08 March 2007 | UPDATED: 12:18 04 May 2010

I THOUGHT people might be interested in learning about the Muscovy Duck. Despite the Russian-sounding name, the Muscovy duck originates from the South American jungle. It is the only duck not descended from the wild Mallard and is not a true duck. The exa

I THOUGHT people might be interested in learning about the Muscovy Duck.

Despite the Russian-sounding name, the Muscovy duck originates from the South American jungle. It is the only duck not descended from the wild Mallard and is not a true duck. The exact origins of the species are unknown, but it is more akin to geese than ducks. The ducks have claws on their webbed feet because in their native environment they nest in trees.

The ducklings hatch out and drop into the water and swim to the bank. I have seen one-day-old ducklings jump 40ft from the roof of a house where they hatched on to the pavement.

The Muscovy was brought over here by the Spanish in the 15th century as a breeding bird. This is the bird that Henry VIII so enjoyed eating. So the Muscovy is neither native to our country nor wild. It is a domesticated farmyard bird.

The Muscovy comes in many colours and the female is roughly half the size of the male. They can live for more than 20 years. They breed profusely, three times each year, with as many as 22 offspring each time, although 15 is more common. There being no predators, most of the young survive and they themselves start breeding at six months.

The Muscovy not being a true duck does not spend as much time in the water as the other water birds in Ely. This is because their oil glands are not as well developed as with Mallards and swans, so it takes longer to dry out and oil themselves.

JOHN GERAGHTY

Ely


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