Meet the Muscovy duck
The Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck which is native to Mexico and Central and South America.  A small wild population reaches into the United States in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  There also are feral breeding populations in North America in and around public parks in nearly every state of the USA and in the Canadian provinces; feral populations also exist in Europe. 
Muscovy ducks were one of very few animals domesticated in the New World. Europeans took Muscovies back home and spread them across the globe. At the same time, wild Muscovy ducks continue to live from Mexico to South America and in the Caribbean.
Today, people keep Muscovies for food and as pets. Owners say they have a lot of personality. And the females giggle instead of quacking. People bred them for size, interesting colors, and exaggerated facial “caruncles” on drakes (male ducks). But they are still the same species as the wild ducks.
Abandoned domesticated Muscovy ducks live wild where the climate is agreeable. These feral populations are most common in southeastern states, especially Florida. They can aggregate in large numbers anywhere they are fed—making them unwelcome in many communities.
Meanwhile, wild Muscovies recently moved from Mexico into Texas, bringing the entire species under the protection of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In recognition, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service issued regulations effective March 31, 2010, that will have major impacts on all Muscovy ducks in the US. 
First American Domestication
Muscovy Ducks had been domesticated by various Native American cultures in the New World when Columbus arrived.  The Incas of Peru domesticated Muscovy ducks centuries ago. They kept them as pest-controlling pets.  Muscovy ducks were depicted in the art of the Mochina culture of ancient Peru by 200 BC, and were likely hunted by many peoples of the Americas before then 
to truly understand Cairinia moschata however, it is needed to understand the people and places that they originated from. The domesticated Muscovy duck of today originated from South and Central America, in particular Ecuador and coastal Mexico. The first people to domesticate Cairinia moschata were the Indigenous peoples in Ecuador. These are the groups of people who were present in what became the South American nation of Ecuador when Europeans arrived.  Archeological excavations in Equator found evidence of a large duck that was kept inside houses in Equator by the indigenous Mocha people.
Here we will discuss the domesticated Muscovy duck. This duck is known Pre Columbian, New World animal domesticate. We will present and evaluate the evidence, both archaeological and documentary, for domestication of this animal, including bone morphology; associated paraphernalia of domestication, such as stone corrals, sacrificial burials, pottery, figurines; and the writings of European conquerors, explorers, naturalists, missionaries, ethnographers, and the native peoples themselves. 
The archaeological record of the large lowland Neo tropical Muscovy duck Cairina moschata, one of the few native animals known to have been domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples, is poorly known. Only a few specimens have been recovered in different cultural, temporal and depositional contexts from throughout the Neo tropics, and differentiating between wild and domesticated forms on the basis of osteological evidence has proved to be difficult.
Archaeological specimens are mainly recorded from sites in western Panama and South America, including the western lowlands of Ecuador where two new locations are described and evaluated. It is suggested that at least some of these Ecuadorian specimens belong to domesticated forms, and that the cultural contexts in which they are found at archaeological sites suggest that pre-Hispanic Trade may have influenced their geographical distribution prior to the arrival of Europeans. 
Evidence of a relationship between the Muscovy duck and humans can be traced as far back as The Archaic period. 
In the Ecuadorian lowlands, there has been evidence of Muscovy duck domestication as far back as 700 BC and 600 BC.. "During this period, hunters began to subsist on a wider variety of smaller game and increased their gathering activities. They also began domesticating plants such as maize and squash, probably at "dooryard gardens." 
There is also evidence of the Muscovy duck's place in the life of ancient peoples of The Formative Period as well. The Formative Period is characterized by “the presence of agriculture, and by the successful integration a into well-established, village life.” In Ecuador, this period is also marked by the establishment of trade networks and the spread of different styles of pottery. Many ancient artifacts portraying Muscovy ducks, such as figurines, pottery and even musical instruments have been found from this period.
As humans started relying more heavily on farming, people cultivated locally-crops developed, including potatoes, quinoa, and tarwi. Animal husbandry kept pace with agricultural development, with the domestication of the local animals Lama, alpaca, and the guinea pig, as well as the coastal Muscovy duck. 
The Muscovy duck, along with other types of wild waterfowl have been hunted for food, down, and feathers worldwide since prehistoric times. Ducks, geese, and swans appear in European cave paintings from the last Ice Age, and a mural in the Ancient Egyptian tomb of Khum-Hotpe (c. 1900 BC) shows a man in a hunting blind capturing swimming ducks in a trap.
The Muscovy duck, with its hardiness and willing to reproduce were one of these animals. They were used for meat, food and companionship by these ancient people.  The ducks were used for a number of purposes. Their meat was used as food  --early explorer Cieza de Leon mentioned a duck raised in coastal Ecuadorian houses for food, as a sacrificial animal, and their dried meat made an aromatic powder. 
The 1987 discovery of an intact Mocha' warrior-priest tomb at: Sipan, Peru, dated to AD 290, gives us a unique look into the culture of this Andean civilization. Included in the adornment of the warrior-priest were mirror image ear ornaments believed to depict a stylized Muscovy duck  and were associated with burials in the cemetery at Ayalan in AD 500. 
Birds were precious resources in the economy of Andean societies. Merchants traded brilliantly colored parrot and macaw feathers in long-distance networks connecting the Amazonian rainforest, the Cordillera, and the remote Pacific coast, where they adorned the sumptuous garments of rulers and kings (59.135.8).
Coastal agriculturalists used guano to enrich their fields. Sailors collected the valuable fertilizer offshore on sacred islands, where they left prestigious offerings. On the coast, domesticated Muscovy ducks may have been part of the subsistence. Beyond their economic importance, birds inspired craftsmen creating colorful textiles, elegant metal adornments, and ceramic vessels 
in ancient mythology it is commonly believed that animals, in particular birds symbolize the underworld. In recent years, there has been evidence that water birds, such as the Muscovy duck were a part of this ancient mythology.  Muscovy ducks along with other birds were sometimes depicted with great realism and beauty, other times portrayed as supernatural winged creatures. The prominence of birds in art reflects their importance in mythologies and ritual performances.
Andean people attentively observed the natural world and the various roles attributed to birds in religions and artistic representations often seem to derive from their properties and behaviors in nature.  Cairina moschata, domesticated in ancient Peru, the bird was used widely as food-and as a source of feathers, they may have been bread for maximum whiteness. Chimu feather work probably made use of Muscovy duck feathers.
Anthropomorphic Muscovy ducks also appear in Mocha art as warriors, probably because the bird is so large, aggressive and a powerful flier. These traits would have been desirable in warriors, but the bird is also associated with death. Indeed, the general association of ducks with water and thus with entrances to the underworld is augmented by the Muscovy duck’s wattle, partly bare head that related it to the vulture. 
Wild specimens are relatively large black ducks with white coverts forming conspicuous white wing patches (Wetmore, 1965; Hutt, 1977; Peterson, 1980). There is often a purplish or greenish reflection to the black color of the body (Blake, 1953; Wetmore, 1965; Hilty and Brown, 1986; Scott, 1987).
The Muscovy duck breed has unusually large talons for a duck, as well as a relatively long tail (Hutt, 1977). Males are more brightly colored, and have red fleshy caruncles on their faces, over their eyes and at the base of their bills.
Females are duller in color and have the fleshy caruncles reduced or absent (Wetmore, 1965; Peterson, 1980). Immature are duller yet in color, with the white on their wings reduced to a few of the greater coverts (Wetmore, 1965). Domestic Muscovy ducks are variable in color and may be white, black, or patched (Peterson, 1980.) 
Domestic Muscovy Ducks Size
The drake (male) is about 86 cm long and weighs 4.6-6.8 kg (10-15 lb), while the hen (female) is much smaller, at 64 cm in length and 2.7-3.6 kg (6-8 lb) in weight; domesticated males often weigh up to 8 kg (17 lb), and domesticated females up to 5 kg (10 lb).
Muscovy’s are unique because of their bright red crest around their eyes and above the beak. The drake also has pronounced caruncles at the base of the bill. Muscovy ducks have a unique red lumpy crest around their eyes and above the beak. This feature seems to be more prominent in the drakes especially the American breeding line who have heavy caruncling.  an outgrowth on a plant or animal such as a fowl's wattle or a protuberance near the hilum of certain seeds
Muscovy duck feet are equipped with strong sharp claws for grabbing tree branches and roosting. All Muscovy ducks have long claws on their feet.  The legs and feet are grayish-black or solid black, as are the feet.  Ducks have webbed feet, designed for swimming. Their webbed feet act like paddles for the ducks. A duck waddles instead of walk because of its webbed feet. Do you know that the duck's feet cannot feel cold even if it swims in icy cold water? Well, the reason for this is because its feet have no nerves or blood vessels!!  Muscovy ducks have powerful legs, sharp claws, long tails and rounded wings to help them navigate around trees. If left unclipped, many females and juvenile males fly very well and enjoy roosting on lofty perches such as barn roofs.
Given an appropriate diet, spacious conditions and protection from predators, they're unlikely to fly off in search of greener pastures. The adult drakes, on the other hand, are basically grounded by their hefty size. Also, the Muscovy's large size, strong wings and sharp claws can make capturing and holding the birds a challenge. Duck-catchers should wear heavy gloves and a long-sleeved jacket for protection. If your ducks roam free during the day, luring them into an enclosed shed, covered pen or other animal-proof enclosure at night will go a long way toward preventing losses from predation. Leave my ducks unclipped, so they can at least have a chance of getting away from dogs and foxes. 
Their size results in full-winged females being able to fly up onto fence posts and the tops of nest boxes a week or more before the males attain this same ability. At my farm I've learned to wing clip or pinion them before they become proficient flyers, as a visit to one of the trout ponds has, on occasion, resulted in them becoming a meal for a visiting river otter. 
Feathers are a feature characteristic of birds. They facilitate flight, provide insulation that aids in thermoregulation, and are used in display, camouflage, and signaling. There are several types of feathers, each serving its own set of purposes. Feathers are epidermal growths attached to the skin and arise only in specific tracts of skin called pterylae. The distribution pattern of these feather tracts (pterylosis) is used in taxonomy and systematics.
The arrangement and appearance of feathers on the body, called plumage, may vary within species by age, status, and sex. Plumage is regularly molted; the standard plumage of a bird that has molted after breeding is known as the "non-breeding" plumage, or – in the Humphrey-Parkes terminology – "basic" plumage; breeding plumages or variations of the basic plumage are known under the Humphrey-Parkes system as "alternate" plumages.
Molting is annual in most species, although some may have two molts a year and large birds of prey may molt only once every few years. Molting patterns vary across species. In passerines, flight feathers are replaced one at a time with the innermost primary being the first. When the fifth of sixth primary is replaced, the outermost tertiaries begin to drop. After the innermost tertiary’s are molted, the secondary’s starting from the innermost begin to drop and this proceeds to the outer feathers (centrifugal molt). The greater primary coverts are molted in synchrony with the primary that they overlap. A small number of species, such as ducks and geese, lose all of their flight feathers at once, temporarily becoming flightless.
As a general rule, the tail feathers are molted and replaced starting with the innermost pair. Centripetal molts of tail feathers are however seen in the Phasianidae. The centrifugal molt is modified in the tail feathers of woodpeckers and tree creepers, in that it begins with the second innermost pair of feathers and finishes with the central pair of feathers so that the bird maintains a functional climbing tail. The general pattern seen in passerines is that the primaries are replaced outward, secondary’s inward, and the tail from center outward.
Before nesting, the females of most bird species gain a bare brood patch by losing feathers close to the belly. The skin there is well supplied with blood vessels and helps the bird in incubation. Feathers require maintenance and birds preen or groom them daily, spending an average of around 9% of their daily time on this. The bill is used to brush away foreign particles and to apply waxy secretions from the uropygial gland; these secretions protect the feathers' flexibility and actas an antimicrobial agent, inhibiting the growth of feather-degrading bacteria. This may be supplemented with the secretions of formic acid from ants, which birds receive through a behavior known as anting, to remove feather parasites.
Beaks, Claws and Feathers
The scales of birds are composed of the same keratin as beaks, claws, and spurs. They are found mainly on the toes and metatarsus, but may be found further up on the ankle in some birds. Most bird scales do not overlap significantly, except in the cases of kingfishers and woodpeckers. The scales of birds are thought to be homologous to those of reptiles and mammals. 
Another special thing that the duck has is its water-proof feathers. There is a special gland that produces oil near the duck's tail which spreads and covers the outer coat of the duck's feathers, making it water-proof. Beneath the water-proof coat are fluffy and soft feathers to keep the duck warm. Ducks keep clean by preening themselves.  This activity is known as personal grooming, a form of hygiene. Extracting foreign objects such as insects, leaves, dirt or twigs, are all forms of grooming.
Among animals, birds spend considerable time preening their feathers. This is done to remove ectoparasites, keep them in good aerodynamic condition, and waterproof them. To do that, they use the preen oil secreted by the uropygial gland, the dust of down feathers. They do this by putting their heads in funny positions and putting their beaks into their body. They preen themselves very often.  They do not swim as much as others as their oil glands are under developed compared to most ducks. Their wings and tails thus 'fray' easier. 
The crest is a prominent feature exhibited by several bird species on their heads. Fleshy crests are called cockscombs; this article discusses feather crests. Generally used for display purposes, crests can be fixed or erectile, depending on the species. Their crests are used to communicate with fellow members of their species, or as a form of defense to frighten away other species that approach too closely. The crest is made up of semi plume feathers: a long rachis with barbs on either side. These are plumulaceous feathers, meaning that they are soft and bendable. In birds, these semi plumes are common along the head, neck, and upper back, and may be used for buoyancy and sensing vibrations. 
Muscovy ducks have a "crest" on the top of their heads that they can raise at will. During the mating season, a male sill often raises this crest to fend off other males and claim his dominance. He will also raise this crest to impress the females and help to get them in the "mood" for mating. Muscovy males and females will often raise their crest as a sign of nervousness or tension. 
Vision is the most important sense for birds, since good eyesight is essential for safe flight, and this group has a number of adaptations which give visual acuity superior to that of other vertebrate groups  The avian eye resembles that of a reptile, but has a better-positioned lens, a feature shared with mammals.
Birds have the largest eyes relative to their size within the animal kingdom, and movement is consequently limited within the eye's bony socket. In addition to the two eyelids usually found in vertebrates, it is protected by a third transparent movable membrane. The eye's internal anatomy is similar to that of other vertebrates, but has a structure, the pectin oculi, unique to birds.
Birds, like fish, amphibians and reptiles, have four types of color receptors in the eye. Most mammals have two types of receptors, although primates have three. This gives birds the ability to perceive not just the visible range but also the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, and other adaptations allow for the detection of polarized light or magnetic fields. Birds have proportionally more light receptors in the retina than mammals, and more nerve connections between the photoreceptors and the brain. Some bird groups have specific modifications to their visual system linked to their way of life. 
The duck's mouth is called a "bill". Normally, it is broad and flat and has rows of fine notches along the edge called "lamellae". The lamellae help the duck to grip its food so that it will not slip off. However, ducks bills come in different shapes and sizes. The shape of the bill and body features will determine how the duck hunt for its food. 
Some ducks do not dive for food. Their beaks are broad and short. They are called dabbling ducks or dabblers. They eat plants, seeds, grasses and other small insects and animals that they find on or under the water. Usually they up-ends and stretch their heads into the water to reach their food. Dabblers usually have shiny colored patches on their wings. The domestic ducks are dabblers too. They are descendents of the Mallards. Dabbling ducks take off from the water in quick jumps. Examples of dabbling ducks are the mallards, cinnamon teals, shoeless, green and blue winged teals, pintails, black ducks, baldpates and gadwalls. For ducks with long necks, they dive their head down into the shallow water and pick up their food. 
The Avian Sense of Smell
Most birds are primarily "sight animals" as their superb eyes, colorful plumage, and nonacoustic signals attest. But their sense of hearing is obviously also very acute -- as in the case of night-hunting owls, which use sound to locate their prey. Most birds seemingly would have little use for smell; in the airy treetops odors disperse quickly and would be of minimal help in locating obstacles, prey, enemies, or mates. Yet the apparatus for detecting odors is present in the nasal passages of all birds. Based on the relative size of the brain center used to process information on odors, physiologists expect the sense of smell to be well developed in rails, cranes, grebes, and nightjars and less developed in passerines, woodpeckers, pelicans, and parrots. By recording the electrical impulses transmitted through the bird's olfactory nerves, physiologists have documented some of the substances that birds as diverse as sparrows, chickens, pigeons, ducks, shearwaters, albatrosses, and vultures are able to smell.
The sense of smell seems better developed in some avian groups than others. Kiwis, the flightless birds that are the national symbol of New Zealand, appear to sniff out their earthworm prey. Sooty Shearwaters and Northern Fulmars are attracted from downwind to the smell of fish oils, squid, and krill, and when tested, investigate the area around a wick releasing such odorants. Other tubenoses such as the Ashy Storm-Petrel and Pink-footed Shearwater are also attracted to the same stimuli.
When they return at night from foraging in the Bay of Fundy, Leach's Storm-Petrels appear to use odor to locate their burrows on forested Kent Island, New Brunswick. They first hover above the thick spruce-fir canopy before plummeting to the forest floor in the vicinity of their burrows. Then they walk upwind to them, often colliding with obstacles on the way. In one experiment the storm-petrels moved toward a stream of air passing over materials from their own burrow, rather than one passing over similar materials from the forest floor. In another experiment, individuals whose nostrils were plugged or whose olfactory nerves had been severed were unable to find their way back to their burrows. These results suggest that the storm-petrels locate their burrows by smell where there is heavy forest cover; they do not seem to use smell to find their burrows on unforested Pacific Islands. Interestingly, there is also some evidence that the smells in air currents near their lofts help pigeons navigate.
There has been a long controversy over the degree to which vultures use odor to help them find food. Mostly the argument has been over whether sight or smell is more important, but it has also been suggested, by those with a flair for the absurd, that vultures listen for the noise of the chewing of carrion-feeding rodents or insects or even use an as yet undiscovered sense. Nonetheless, the sight-odor argument remains unsettled. While Turkey Vultures, for example, seem to have a good sense of smell, quite likely it is not good enough to detect the stench of decomposing food from their foraging altitudes. Experiments have shown that their threshold for detecting the odors of at least three different products of decay is too high to permit sniff location from high altitude. Whether or not the birds are more sensitive to the smells of other components of decomposition remains to be determined. More work will need to be done before we know whether vultures use sight or smell or both to locate the dead animals they feed on. 
What's in A Name ?
How the Muscovy inherited its name is not entirely known. The term "Muscovy" means "from the Moscow region", but these ducks are neither native there nor were they introduced there before they became known in Western Europe. It is not quite clear how the term came about; it very likely originated between 1550 and 1600, but did not become widespread until somewhat later.
The Muscovy Company traded Russian produce to England, and it has been claimed that the Company of Merchant Adventurers to New Lands traded these ducks to Europe occasionally after 1550; this chartered company became eventually known as the Muscovy duck or "Muscovite Company" so the ducks might thus have come to be called "Muscovite Ducks" or "Muscovy Ducks" in keeping with the common practice of attaching the importer's name to the products they sold. But while the Muscovite Company initiated vigorous trade with Russia, they hardly, if at all, traded produce from the Americas; thus they are unlikely to have traded C. moschata to a significant extent. Though it is commercially known as Barbary Duck it is also not native to Barbary. In some regions the name Barbary Duck is used for domesticated and "Muscovy Duck" for wild birds.
Depending on area, various Spanish names are used for the duck in Latin America. Among these is pato cariole (“native duck”), pâto real (“royal duck”), pâto almisclado (“musk duck”), pato machacón (“insistent duck”), and pato perulero (“Peru duck”).Native to South America, their original name was "Musco duck" because they ate so many mosquitoes. In Brazilian Portuguese, it is most commonly called pato do mato (“forest duck”). Indigenous names for this bird indicate its New World origin, including ñuñuma in Quechua, sumne in Chibcha, and tlalalacatl in the Nahuatl language of Mexico. Yet another view – not incompatible with either of those discussed above – connects the species with the Musica, a Native American nation in today's Colombia. The duck is native to these lands too, and it is likely that it was kept by the Muisca as a domestic animal to some extent. It is conceivable that a term like "Muisca duck", hard to comprehend for the average European of those times, would be bowdlerized into something more familiar. Muscovy "might be simply a generic term for a hard-to-reach and exotic place, in reference to the singular appearance of these birds. This is evidenced by other names suggesting the species came from lands where it is not actually native, but from where much "outlandish" produce was imported at that time. But in fact, the true origin of the common name "Muscovy Duck" lies in neither of the above explanation – though any or all of them played together to arrive at it.
The species was first scientifically described by Carl Linnaeus in his 1758 edition of Systema Nature as Anas moschata , literally meaning "musk duck". His description only consist of a curt but entirely unequivocal [Anas] facie nuda papillosa ("A duck with a naked and caruncled face"), and his primary reference is his earlier work Fauna Svecica. But Linnaeus refers also to older sources, and therein much information on the origin of the common name is found: Conrad Gessner is given by Linnaeus as a source, but the Historiae animalium mentions the Muscovy duck only in passing. Ulisse Aldrovandi  discusses the species in detail, referring to the wild birds and its domestic breeds variously as anas cairina,anas indicaor anas libyca – "Duck from Cairo","Indian Duck" (in reference to the West Indies) or "Libyan Duck". But his anas indica (based, like Gessner's brief discussion, ultimately on the reports of Christopher Columbus's travels) also seems to have included another species, perhaps a whistling-duck (Dendrocygna).Already however the species is tied to some more or less nondescript "exotic" locality – “Libya " could still refer to any place in North Africa at that time – where it did not natively occur.Francis Willughby discusses "The Muscovy Duck" as anas moschata and expresses his belief that Aldrovandi's and Gessner's anas cairina, anas indica and anas libyca (which he calls "The Guiny Duck", adding another mistaken place of origin to the list) refer to the very same species.
John Ray clears up much of the misunderstanding by providing a contemporary explanation for the bird's etymology: In English, it is called The Muscovy-Duck, though this is not transferred from Muscovia [the New name of Muscovy ], but from the rather strong musk odor it exudes."Linnaeus came to witness the birds' "gamey" aroma first-hand, as he attests in the Fauna Svecica and again in the travelogue of this 1746 Vaster Gotland excursion. Similarly, the Russian name of this species, muskusnaya utka (Мускусная утка), means "musk duck" – without any reference to Moscow –, as do the Bokmal moskusand, Dutch muskuseend, Finnish myskisorsa, French canard musqué, German Moschusente, Italian anatra muschiata, Spanish pato almizclado Swedish myskand. In English however, Musk duck refers to the entirely unrelated waterfowl Biziura lobata from Australia.
The generic name Cairina, meanwhile, traces its origin to Aldrovandi, and ultimately to the mistaken belief that the birds came from Egypt: translated, the current scientific name of the Muscovy duck means "the musky one from Cairo. The most telling of all the names given to the Muscovy duck can be taken from the direct translation of its Latin name. Cairina, the Genius name, can be traced to the Latin word Carina, meaning “beloved friend”, and species name moschata meaning “beloved squash shaped friend".
Muscovy ducks can be observed in the wild with a good spotting scope, some knowledge of favored areas, and a lot of patience! They are quite wary birds and spend a considerable amount of time in the trees, often making them difficult to find, approach, and observe.
They are strong, heavy fliers, and when startled, usually fly until out of sight. They tend to feed during morning and evening hours and loaf under or in trees during mid-day. They seem to prefer shallow areas of flooded vegetation (about 6-18? of water) for feeding. During the breeding season they can most often be found alone or in small groups (up to 5 individuals). Slightly larger groups (up to 16 individuals) are seen in the non-breeding season.
Muscovy ducks have a unique repertoire of displays used in various contexts? Aggression, courtship, vigilance, etc. These displays, similar in form and function to those observed in the domestic variety, include; Head bobbing, tail wagging, crest raising, bill clapping, and hissing.
Aside from display hisses, and soft quacks and churrs by females, Muscovy ducks do not exhibit vocalizations . Are Muscovy ducks aggressive? No. As a matter of fact, my children love them. It almost seems that the Muscovy ducks are trying to "talk" when they come up to you, wag their tails like a dog, and look up at you as if to say, "Got a treat?" About the only time a Muscovy male might be aggressive would be toward another male during breeding season. Females will also be "picky" about protecting their young, so we give them their space. So are they nasty? Absolutely not! As stated earlier, their droppings are soft and are very easily biodegradable.
We use the manure from Muscovy ducks in our garden every year since it is rich in nitrogen. We even have customers who come to our hatchery and ask to clean out our pens just so they can have the manure. "During the more than 40 years that we have been in business, I must confess that we have bred and hatched some pretty interesting fowls. However, absolutely none can compare with the uniqueness, the adaptability, the pure pleasure, and the usefulness of the Muscovy duck. Because any people think that this is a "strange" poultry specimen, I would like to set the record straight." .
The Muscovy duck is considered a Perching duck. The perching ducks ("Cairininae" or "Cairinini") were previously treated as a small group of ducks in the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae, grouped together on the basis of their readiness to perch high in trees. It has been subsequently shown that the grouping is paraphyletic and their apparent similarity results from convergent evolution, with the different members more closely related to various other ducks than to each other (Livezey 1986).
Why do ducks tuck their bills under their feathers while they sleep?
Ducks tuck their bills under their feathers while they sleep to reduce exposure of unprotected areas of the body - the bill and feet - by tucking them into feathers. A sleeping bird will occasionally alternate the foot held up. There is some interesting information on the web and in books about level of alertness to danger while sleeping, but not much about the posture. Many other types of birds share these sleeping traits. 
Duck Social Structure
Waterfowl biologists refer to the mating behavior (courtship behavior as opposed to actual breeding) of ducks, geese and swans as pair bonding. Most water fowlers know that geese mate, or pair bond, for life. After the ducks pair bond the male and female stay together during nesting, and the young stay with the parents through the fall and winter. The young geese don't usually leave their parents or begin to pair bond until they are on the wintering grounds during their first or second year. This means that, during the hunting season, most geese are still in family groups consisting of the male, the female, and their young. Ducks, on the other hand, do not mate for life; they regularly form a pair bond with a new partner each year. But, the male and female don't stay together to raise the young, and the young don't stay with the females very long.
The drakes of most duck species leave the hens as soon as they start to nest, or shortly after. The hens then raise the ducklings by themselves. During the summer the hens molt (which leaves them flightless); and the young ducks grow their first flight feathers and begin to fly. After the young ducks learn to fly they may no longer associate with the hen, and they are generally on their own. Both young and old ducks then begin forming loose pair bonds from late summer through early winter. Pair bonding by older Mallards may begin as early as mid-August. Pair bonding by other puddle duck species may occur from mid-October through winter, and by divers from mid-winter through early spring. Pair bonding is often accompanied by aerial courtship flights and displays, and by calls that are associated with pair bonding behavior. As a result of this social behavior, ducks are not normally in family groups during the hunting season; they are usually in flocks consisting of unrelated individuals and newly bonded pairs. 
This bird law regulates the peaceful coexistence of the flock: The number 1 bird in the flock can peck and dominate all the others, the number 2 bird can dominate all but the number 1 bird, the number 3 bird can dominate all but # 1 and # 2, right on down the line until we reach the last bird who dominates no one. Introducing a new bird into a flock threatens the existing pecking order. This normally results in a power struggle for position. Unless the conflict is causing serious injury to the participants, do not intervene; remember that the law of pecking and roughhousing is for the future peace of the flock. 
The information contained on this page is not meant to be all inclusive. What I've written is based on my experiences and contains information I feel is important for people to know prior to deciding on whether the Muscovy is a good fit for them and their environment. My belief is that there is a breed of duck to fit just about every situation. While I firmly believe the Muscovy is the best all-around practical duck, not everyone may be up to the particular challenges raising Muscovy presents. This article, therefore, is written with the intent to help you decide if the Muscovy is the bird for you!
Muscovy (Cairina Moschata) is one of two types of domestic duck, the other being what are referred to as 'mallard derivatives'. Mallard derivatives descend from the wild mallard, (Anas Platyrhynchos) each breed being developed through selective breeding. Common Mallard derivative breeds include the Peking, Rouen, Indian Runner, Khaki Campbell, Welsh Harlequin, etc. If you're familiar with these breeds you will know that there is great variation between the breeds with regard to color, shape, size, egg-laying ability, & carcass quality.
Muscovy, by comparison, has changed little from their wild counterparts over the years. The most noticeable difference is in the increased size, greater number of varieties, & increased caruncling that domestic Muscovy possesses. True wild Muscovy are typically black or dark brown with white wing patches, wing bows, & throat patches and are still found in Mexico & South America. In recent years they have even been found nesting along the Rio Grande in Texas. Feral Muscovy, that is, domestic Muscovy that have become wild, can be found in many southern states here in the US and are often considered nuisances.
Domestic Muscovy can be found in over 10 solid-color varieties with three feather patterns, laced, ripple and barred, as well as pied birds which can be found with any color/pattern and white & white-head birds which can be found in any color. Whereas ripple & barred birds are a variety in and of themselves, lacing is actually found in the better specimens of several color varieties, such as blue. The ability to find certain varieties really depends on location, although with the US Postal Service shipping birds it is easier now than ever before. Weights can reach in excess of 15 lbs for better quality drakes and 9 lbs for better quality ducks although the most common utility Muscovy will weigh quite a bit less. Utility is a descriptor used to denote your typical farm-yard Muscovy. These birds have more moderate caruncling and are, as a general rule, great broodies, hardy, & incredibly self-sufficient. Standard-bred birds, or exhibition quality, are those birds who have been bred towards the standard set forth by the American Poultry Association (APA) Standard of Perfection (SOP). These birds are often much larger & have much more caruncling. If you want a good all around farmyard bird the utility Muscovy can't be beat.
Typically Muscovy is considered a meat breed, their meat often being compared to veal. It is lean, unlike other
duck meat which tends to be greasy. When crossed with a mallard derivative breed they produce what are called Mules, which are sterile? Commercially a lot of ducks raised for consumption are mules, as is the case of the Moulard - a Muscovy drake Peking duck cross. An interesting note - breeding a MD drake to a Muscovy duck results in eggs requiring approximately 35 days to hatch, breeding a Muscovy drake to a MD duck results in eggs that require approximately 28 days to hatch.
Another characteristic of the Muscovy is their ability to set and hatch a nest. Muscovy can hatch anywhere from a single duckling up to 20+ ducklings at a time, two to three times a year. Incubation takes on average 35 days, and is much more difficult to do artificially than other domestic ducks are. Muscovy ducks (hens) do not lay a lot of eggs; instead they lay only until their nest is full then they begin to set. Muscovy is incredibly broody and will spend the entire summer dedicated to either their nest or a clutch of ducklings. If you steal a Muscovy duck's eggs, she will abandon that nest and seek out another, more suitable (meaning better hidden!) nest and begin to lay there. They are notorious for being able to hide nests anywhere regardless of how convenient that location is for you! If a duck can squeeze through it, she can put a nest in it.
People often say that Muscovy does not need to swim because they do not have sufficient oil glands & will get waterlogged and die. While it is true that the oil gland on a Muscovy is not as developed as that on a mallard derivative, they do indeed possess them and bathing and subsequent preening is how Muscovy maintain good feather condition. A large amount of water is not necessary, a plastic child's pool or contractor's pan is sufficient for a small flock of birds. For the most part Muscovy do not drill in mud as mallard derivatives do, so the area where their pool is located won't become near as messy! If you do find the pool-side area becoming soggy & muddy, moving the pool to new ground will take care of this problem.
Muscovy are a perching duck, both sexes are capable of flying although fully mature adult drakes generally don't get far off the ground. Ducks, on the other hand, can fly very well and will often fly to rooftops to survey their territory. Because they are a perching duck, Muscovy possesses very sharp, strong, talon-like claws. They can climb very well and will use their claws and bills to climb fences, I have personally witnessed drakes climb over fences in excess of six foot tall. In addition they are also referred to as the prize-fighter of the duck world because they are very powerful birds. Combine these two attributes and you have one difficult duck to catch & handle.
There are steps you can take to make Muscovy-handling less traumatic (for you and the bird!). First, I like to run my birds into a pen that I have set up to sort birds without actually handling them. By opening or closing a series of gates, I can sort birds using little more than a swing of a gate and a 'duck-sorting-stick'. This is a walking stick I use which is approximately 4' - 5' long. Using my duck-sorting-stick increases my reach and I'm able to direct ducks using the stick without having to get within arm’s length and stressing them further.
After I've sorted out the 'innocent' birds, or those birds that I do not plan to catch, I release them back into their pen & re-sort if necessary. When all of the innocents are sorted off and released, I then work on catching those birds that need to be caught. In order to catch birds with the least amount of stress possible, I try to reduce the amount they're chased by creating a funnel using hog panels. The birds run in the wide end and as they move towards the front, the pen decreases in size until it's flush with the fence. I'm able to catch these birds with relative ease and carry them where I want them. When holding birds, I have found that if you support the bird well it will struggle less.
I like to fold the feet together so that the toes are all side-by-side, I then hold the feet in my left hand and wrap the claws around the edge of my forefinger as shown in the photo at left. I tuck the bird under my arm making sure to have both wings compressed against the duck's body. Held in this manner, ducks are much less likely to struggle and the handler is far less likely to receive cuts and scratches.
There are several ways to ground Muscovy if you wish to prevent them from flying. The easiest is clipping the flight feathers from one wing which throws the bird off balance and removes parts of that ‘lift' these feathers provide. Clipped wings last through molting. Once the bird has molted and new feathers have grown in, wings will have to be clipped again. A second method for preventing flight is to actually pull the flight feathers from one wing. While this is a bit harsher, the over-all result will look much better. Wings that have been clipped tend to become very worn & frayed, making the bird look ragged. Birds where the flight feathers have been pulled have very little noticeable difference in overall appearance. The downside to this method is that within a short period of time these pulled feathers begin to grow back in.
The third method I'm familiar with is pinioning. Pinioning is the removal of the tip of a bird's wing where the flight feathers grow. This is best done with day-old birds although it can be done on adults by Veterinarians or experienced breeders. The final method requires cutting a tendon, this is again one procedure I would not recommend unless it is being done by a Veterinarian or experienced breeder.
A person will sometimes hear horror stories about aggressive Muscovy but I can honestly say after having raised hundreds & hatching thousands I have yet to have a person-aggressive duck. The problem begins when people choose to raise ducklings as pets. Imprinting ducklings on humans creates friendly ducklings, but it can also create monster adults. Where people go wrong is not considering animal nature & future behavior when deciding to imprint ducklings. While young, ducklings enjoy the company of their human-companions however upon sexual maturation drakes begin to undergo a hormonal change which releases 'duck-zilla'. In their natural environment, drakes must fight other drakes to obtain social status.
The goal of every drake is to be at the top of the social ladder which provides him the benefit of mating with the hens in his flock. This guarantees his offspring have the best chance of perpetuating the breed & his genes. When drakes consider people their flock-mates, they will naturally challenge them for top-dog status. This means they will bite, pinch, & flog in an effort to bully the person into submission. Usually shocked by this behavior, most people will run away from and avoid the drake which in reality shows the drake he has won the battle and that person is accepting defeat. These drakes will continue to attack as long as they feel they have a right to challenge people.
The best way to avoid creating aggressive ducks is to treat them as ducks and raise them as naturally as possible. Maintain a distance, and do not allow the ducks to become so familiar that they no longer have any fear of humans. If you find yourself stuck with an aggressive drake do not allow him to win a fight - ever! Keep children away, and tell all adults to handle aggressive behavior each time it occurs. I'm not willing to put my face close enough to an aggressive animal to grab it. You can also grab the duck and pin him to the ground and ruffle his feathers until he submits. Do this every time he displays aggressive behavior and in most cases he will learn that you are not to be challenged.