Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) - Wiki
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[Photo] Muscovy Duck at a St Albans park, 12 November 2003. The original can be found at http://arglist.com/photos/
The Muscovy Duck, Cairina moschata is a large duck which is native to Mexico, Central and South America. A small wild population reaches into the lower Rio Grande River basin in Texas. There also is a significant feral population in southern Florida and southern Texas.
The wild Muscovy Duck is all-dark apart from the white in the wings, with long talons on its feet and a wide flat tail. The male is 86 cm long and weighs 3 kg, much larger than the 64 cm long, 1.3 kg female. His most distinctive features are a bare red face with a pronounced caruncle at the base of the bill and a low erectile crest of feathers. The drake has a dry hissing call, and the hen a quiet trilling coo.
This non-migratory species normally inhabits forested swamps, lakes and streams, and often roosts in trees at night.
This species, like the Mallard, does not form stable pairs, and, again like that species, forced sexual intercourse can occur in feral populations. The hen lays a clutch of 8-10 white eggs, usually in a tree hole or hollow, which are incubated for 35 days.
The Muscovy Duck has benefited from nest boxes in Mexico, but is somewhat uncommon in much of the east of its range due to excessive hunting.
Muscovy ducks can breed near urban and suburban lakes and on farms, nesting in tree cavities or on the ground, under shrubs in yards, on condominium balconies or under roof overhangs.
The Muscovy Duck's diet consists of plant material obtained by grazing or dabbling in shallow water, with some small vertebrates and insects.
It was formerly placed into the paraphyletic "perching duck" assemblage, but subsequently moved to the Anatinae subfamily of dabbling ducks. Analysis of the mtDNA sequences of the cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 genes (Johnson & Sorenson, 1999), however, indicates that it might be closer to the genus Aix and better placed in the shelduck subfamily Tadorninae; in addition, the other species of Cairina, the rare White-winged Wood Duck, seems to belong into a distinct genus.
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