The Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) attracts more attention than most ducks, at least in North America. When this native of Mesoamerica and South America is spied in the wild, usually in some corner of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, it elicits admiring oohs and ahs. When a Muscovy is seen anywhere else, the result is rarely as positive: “What kind of duck is that and what happened to its face?!?”

Such is the lot of the Manky Muscovy.

While most domestic ducks descend from the mighty Mallard, the other barnyard duck is the much maligned Muscovy. Actually, this lean, hardy bird has lots of fans in kitchens and at tables all over the world. However, the species sometimes referred to as the Barbary Duck appears very much out of place just about everywhere else.

All Muscovies are large ducks with long talons and a wide flat tail. Wild Muscovies have very dark plumage, black with a purple or green sheen, as well as random pine green feathering on their wings and backs, white wing patches, erectile crests, and featherless faces. That rabid red facial skin is highlighted by mighty (some might say monstrous) caruncles, which are more mighty or monstrous in males than in females.  The domestic Muscovy duck displays the same caruncular charm, but appears in more colors than the basic black. Many manky Muscovies are mottled or pied, while others come in brown, white, blue, and even lilac.

Punk Muscovy © Jay Richmond

The word manky means many things in British parlance from dirty and disgusting to inferior and worthless. Feral Muscovy Ducks seem to attract many of those epithets. Not only are the individual ducks hard to look at, but in groups, the feral populations create the same messes other masses of waterfowl do. Frankly, I find them gloriously grotesque, akin to New World vultures in their bare-faced beastliness. Do you agree?

Juvenile Muscovy Duck © Jay Richmond

*** Have you seen any manky muscovies lately? ***
If you have great photos of manky Muscovy Ducks you’d like us to add to this gallery, send them to mike AT 10000birds DOT com!

@Slimbridge Wetland Centre © Mike Fuller

Muscovy © Jay Richmond

@Riverhead, NY © Joe Kelly

Muscovy © Jay Richmond

Magnificent Muscovy © Karen Davis

Muscovy © Jay Richmond

Muscovy © Jay Richmond

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.