The most obvious character of a Muscovy is the red facial skin. If your duck has a red face, it’s probably a Muscovy Duck. This red skin can be quite bumpy, exaggerated, and frankly, gross, with a knob on top of the bill and lumps all over. If you see that, it’s a slam dunk Muscovy Duck. The wild type plumage of Muscovy is all black, glossy greenish on the back, and with large white wing patches. But, because of our fondness for white, domestic Muscovies can be pure white, all black, or any degree of pied black-and-white.
The Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck native to Mexico, Central, and South America. Small wild and feral breeding populations have established themselves in the United States, particularly in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, as well as in many other parts of North America, including southern Canada. Feral Muscovy Ducks are found in New Zealand and have also been reported in parts of Europe.
They are a large duck, with the males about 76 cm or 30 inches long, and weighing up to 7 kg or 15 pounds. Females are considerably smaller, and only grow to 3 kg or 7 pounds, roughly half the males’ size. The bird is predominantly black and white, with the back feathers being iridescent and glossy in males, while the females are more drab. The amount of white on the neck and head is variable, as well as the bill, which can be yellow, pink, black, or any mixture of these. They may have white patches or bars on the wings, which become more noticeable during flight. Both sexes have pink or red wattles around the bill, those of the male being larger and more brightly colored.
Although the Muscovy Duck is a tropical bird, it adapts well to cooler climates, thriving in weather as cold as −12°C (10°F) and able to survive even colder conditions.