Choose a breed from the list below and start small. Probably as the result of some wartime Ministry of Food edict, duck eggs have always been unpopular; somehow the idea lingers that they may be tainted. Their shells are porous and shelf-life short, but with scrupulous hygiene and prompt collection, a freshly laid duck egg is as delicious as any.
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Some mutations or odd plumages aren’t the result of albinism, but seem just to be rare variations. The white neck band on a male Gadwall or the white cheeks on a male American Wigeon are examples that you can find if you just look through enough individuals.
Domesticated ducks are ducks that are raised for meat, eggs and down. Many ducks are also kept for show, as pets, or for their ornamental value. Almost all varieties of domesticated duck are descended from the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), apart from the Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata).
domestic Mallards, Pensthorpe (Norfolk, UK), 9th March 2014 - the bird on the left was in the nature reserve but the bird on the right was inside an enclosure with captive birds; I'm not sure if it's a male showing remnants of juvenile plumage or an advanced intersex female
Call Ducks are very good flyers so they will need their wing feathers trimmed to prevent them from flying away when you first get any. You only need to do one wing or if you prefer, you can keep them under netting. However, once they are settled in their home, they rarely fly off so they don't usually need clipping twice!
This dusky call duck was in Union Springs, Cayuga Co., NY, 19 February 2006.
(First published in the Cayuga Bird Club Newsletter, February and March 2006)
As Dr Chris Ashton says, “For thousands of years, ducks have been a source of interest to human beings, mainly for practical reasons – warmth from their feathers, and food. Duck eggs are a good source of protein and, in many cultures, their meat has long been a favourite food.”
For the specialist breeders and keepers of pure breeds of ducks, they are charming pets, and produce reasonable numbers of eggs.
This is Audubon's painting of "Bemaculated Duck" or "Brewer's Duck." It has been accepted as a Mallard X Gadwall hybrid.
Only two species of ducks have been domesticated: the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and the Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata).
- Aylesbury (4.1kg/9lb). Perfected over centuries as a table duck par excellence. Deep keeled with low-slung undercarriage in pure white. Lays about 100 eggs a year.
- Ducks are messy. Make sure their quarters are mucked out regularly, bed them on clean straw, not hay, and keep feed in bins to deter vermin.
domestic Mallards, Helston Boating Lake (Cornwall, UK), 21st November 2013
We fed them, witnessed their lurid love-lives, racing out with arms akimbo to rescue put-upon females courted by dozens of sex-mad lotharios (mallard drakes are the only birds with phalluses, all those innuendos are wasted on cockerels); every morning we woke bleary-eyed to their raucous dawn chorus, and raised their orphans – and I always seemed to have a duckling nestled in my jumper.
Pictures taken with an Olympus D-450, D-40, or Sony Sureshot digital camera through a Swarovski HD80 or Swarovski AT80 spotting scope.
An incredibly large proportion of requests for help with identification from non-birders or novice birders relate to domestic ducks or domestic geese. That's because they don't appear in most bird books and they often look nothing like their wild ancestors.
We have taken many pictures of ducks at poultry and waterfowl shows but if you have a photograph of a good example of a domestic breed in a natural setting, we would certainly be interested in hearing from you.
This Gadwall with a white fore neck was at Montezuma NWR, Seneca Co., NY, 14 April 2002.
This female Redhead was in Union Springs, Cayuga Co., NY, 24 November 2000.
Cayuga Ducks are a great choice to keep because they are so beautiful looking, they add a touch of colour to any back garden. However, keeping ducks in a garden means you need to have plenty of space, because these lovely and often very amusing birds are notorious for spoiling lawns and destroying flower beds!
Domestic Leaflet Want to Keep ducks moscovy Indian Runners cayugas silverappleyards khaki campbells
This normal American Wigeon was at Ithaca, Tompkins Co., NY, 13 March 2004.
- Campbell (2.5kg/5.5lb), bred by a Mrs Campbell for eggs, the prolific khaki Campbell will lay an egg a day. Heavy on the garden if not fed adequately.
Below are 3 popular and great looking domestic duck breeds that are commonly seen at pure bred duck shows as well as in people's back gardens!
domestic Mallards, Chew Valley Lake (Avon, UK), 1st October 2011
This normal Gadwall was at Montezuma NWR, Seneca Co., NY, 29 October 2005.
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domestic Mallard, Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway, UK), 29th December 2011
Amongst the dabbling ducks certain patterns seem to occur in hybrids, even if they are not present in the parents. Pale cheeks and a Baikal Teal face pattern can result from a number of different pairings. Note its presence, if faint, in the second Mallard X black duck pictured above.
Male ducks provide no parental care, and female ducks do not have to feed their young, just lead them around. (Which is why male ducks can get away with not helping.) This situation can lead to careless sex and consequently hybridization. Although hybrid ducks are not that common overall, they do occur on a regular basis.
FIND OUT MORE waterfowl.org.uk; britishcallduckclub.org.uk; smallholderfeed.co.uk; domesticfowltrust.co.uk; kitchen-garden-hens.co.uk.
This Brewer's Duck look-alike was in Union Springs, Cayuga Co., NY, 13 February 2006.
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This is a bantam breed of duck with stunning, beetle green glossy plumage. This breed is ideal if you have a small garden, but keep their wings clipped as they may fly off when spooked. They lay 40 to 100 eggs a year. Drakes weigh 900g and ducks weigh 700 - 800g.
Ducks are farmed for their meat, eggs, and down. A minority of ducks are also kept for foie gras production. In Vietnam, their blood is used in a food called tiết canh. Their eggs are blue-green to white, depending on the breed.
Duck Breeds Pictures Thanks… We have to give an extra special thank you to Rupert Stephenson, poultry photographer who has supplied us with so many first class duck breeds pictures for this area of the site and the British Waterfowl Association members for their support in allowing us to photograph their ducks.
This transitioning Green-winged Teal was in Union Springs, Cayuga Co., NY, 22 December 2001.
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