STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
RANGE: Mexico, Central, and South America
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
Muscovy ducks are large ducks. Males reach up to thirty inches and weigh up to fifteen pounds. Females are much smaller, weighing up to about six and a half pounds. They are predominantly black and white, with males having iridescent and glossy back feathers. The bill can be yellow, pink, black or a mixture. Both genders have pink or red waddles around their bills, but those on the male are larger and more brightly colored. These ducks have been bred domestically and have a few subspecies that are larger and more bulky, making them less able to fly long distances. The domestic breed tends to have more variation in their plumage colors and patterns.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Muscovy ducks are diurnal and forage for food during the day. At night, they often sleep at the water’s edge so that they can make a quick escape should a predator or other threat appear. These ducks become sexually mature at one year of age. Unlike other ducks, males do not perform displays to attract females. Instead, they often fight with each other to win the right to mate with a female. Mating starts in August and can continue through May, varying depending on population. Females make nests in tree cavities near bodies of water. After mating, the female can lay eight to sixteen eggs that incubate for thirty-five days. She will only leave the nest once a day for twenty minutes to an hour and a half to eat, drink water, bathe, and defecate. The male stays with them for a few weeks after the chicks hatch before departing again. During the first few weeks, the chicks feed on almost anything that moves with the guidance of their mother. The chicks will stay with her for ten to twelve weeks.
Muscovy ducks are native to Mexico and South and Central America in the following areas: Belize, Bolivia, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela, Guyana, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Nicaragua. They have spread to other locations as well.
Muscovy ducks tend to inhabit forested wetlands like wooded rivers and swamps.
Muscovy ducks eat a variety of plants and seeds, but mostly water plants. They also eat invertebrates like insects and arthropods.