Reddish Vale Country Park

The Muscovy Duck is a large duck native to Mexico, and have been domesticated for many centuries.


Muscovys eat plant material from grazing or dabbling in shallow water, with some small vertebrates and insects.


The Muscovy duck is also known commercially as Barbary duck and can weigh up to 15 pounds.


Male and females are similar in appearance; however, males are nearly twice as large as females. In addition, males have a bare patch of black skin surrounded by pinkish-red caruncles (fleshy outgrowths) which extends from the back of the eye to the bill.


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.



The Muscovy Company traded Russian produce to England. In one suggestion, it has been claimed that the Company of Merchant Adventurers to New Lands traded these ducks to Europe occasionally after 1550; this chartered company became eventually known as the Muscovy Company or "Muscovite Company" so the ducks might thus have come to be called "Muscovite Ducks" or "Muscovy Ducks" in keeping with the common practice of attaching the importer's name to the products they sold. But while the Muscovite Company initiated vigorous trade with Russia, they hardly, if at all, traded produce from the Americas; thus they are unlikely to have traded muscovy ducks to a significant extent.


Alternatively – just as in the "turkey" bird (which is also from America), or the "guineafowl" (which are not limited to Guinea) – "Muscovy" might be simply a generic term for a hard-to-reach and exotic place, in reference to the singular appearance of these birds. This is evidenced by other names suggesting the species came from lands where it is not actually native, but from where much "outlandish" produce was imported at that time (see below). A more recent parallel is the "Persian" cat, which resembles cats from Greater Khorasan and Ankara, but was actually bred in England.


Yet another view – not incompatible with either of those discussed above – connects the species with the Muisca, a Native American nation in today's Colombia. The duck is native to these lands too, and it is likely that it was kept by the Muisca as a domestic animal to some extent. It is conceivable that a term like "Muisca duck", hard to comprehend for the average European of those times, would be corrupted into something more familiar.



Muscovy Duck

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Lifespan, 7-8 years.

Average length,

male 31".

female 23.6".

Average weight,

male 7.72 lbs

female 3.86 lbs.

Diet, roots, leaves,

seeds of aquatic plants and crops, small fish, reptiles, crustaceans and insects.

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Muscovy Duck