Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata

  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Jack C. Eitniear, R. Bribiesca-Formisano, Claudia I. Rodríguez-Flores, Carlos A. Soberanes-González, and Marîa del Coro Arizmendi



Muscovy Ducks are versatile generalist feeders that use both open marshes and grain fields (Baldassarre 2014). Foraging is accomplished by tipping in shallow water, dabbling at the water's surface, and grazing along grassy shorelines and in agricultural fields near water.


Muscovies are non-territorial in the breeding season but otherwise aggressive towards each other (Hoffman 2005). However, Sibley (1967) states that paired Muscovies swim and sun together and drive away intruders from their own chosen area. Otherwise there are no data on territory or home range size for Muscovy Duck.

Sexual Behavior

While considered promiscuous in captivity, field observations (see Hoffmann 1992) suggest that they are monogamous. Reproduction may begin at 1 year but most likely at 2 years of age. Courtship displays of Muscovy ducks are relatively simple in comparison with those of other ducks (Raud and Faure 1988, Stai 1999, Johnsgard 1978).

Social and interspecific behavior

Aggressive behaviors between males are common, when they usually use the wings and legs during the fights. Males make simple displays, which include rising crest, move the tail side to side, partially lifting its wings, and flying in circles (Fischer et al. 1982).

Muscovy Ducks usually are solitary, in pairs, or in small groups; they do not associate with other species.


Ducklings are vulnerable to a variety of predators including, alligators, snakes, turtles, predatory fish, various birds, and mammals. Snakes and raccoons predate eggs and recently hatched ducklings. Hoffman (1992) states duckling mortality is estimated at 70% due to predation and scarcity of food. Of course this will vary with the area.

Recommended Citation

Eitniear, J. C., R. Bribiesca-Formisano, C. I. Rodríguez-Flores, C. A. Soberanes-González, and M. d. C. Arizmendi (2015). Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.