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Muscovy Duck

Latin: Cairina moschata
Average length: M 31", F 23.6"
Average weight: M 7.72 lbs., F 3.86 lbs.

Description: Muscovy ducks are brownish-black in coloration, with iridescent green and purple dorsal plumage and white wing patches. The legs and feet are grayish-black and the iris is yellowish-brown. Males and females are similar in appearance, but males are nearly twice as large as females. In addition, males have a patch of bare black skin surrounded by pinkish-red caruncles (fleshy outgrowths) which extends from the back of the eye to the bill. Although relatively silent, the male produces a low hissing sound and the female has a short, weak "quack."

Breeding: The muscovy duck is found in all parts of the world in a domesticated state. Its chief breeding range in the wild includes Central America and northern South America. In North America, muscovies are found locally in Mexico and a small population inhabits southern Texas at the extreme northern edge of its range. Muscovies prefer wetlands near forested areas and nest in tree cavities or nest boxes, laying an average of 8 eggs.

Migrating and Wintering: Muscovy ducks are sedentary and do not have established migration patterns. However, they may move in response to fluctuating water conditions. Muscovy ducks are endemic to the Neotropical Realm. They are widespread and fairly common in tropical regions of Mexico, Central America and South America west of the Andes south to Ecuador, and east of the Andes south to northern Argentina and Uruguay (Scott and Carbonell, 1986).

Population: The muscovy duck population is estimated to have between 100,000 and 1 million individuals (Rose and Scott, 1994). Currently, populations are thought to be declining. Despite a wide distribution, the muscovy duck is only locally common in less populated areas in the eastern part of its range as a result of hunting and habitat loss. ecent nest box programs in Mexico, sponsored by Ducks Unlimited de Mexico, A.C. (DUMAC), have increased populations in many areas.

Food habits: Muscovy ducks feed on the roots, stems, leaves and seeds of aquatic and terrestrial plants, including agricultural crops. They also eat small fish, reptiles, crustaceans, insects, millipedes and termites.

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