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What are some duck species?

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Quick Answer

Some different species of duck include the mallard, the muscovy and the bufflehead. Although they do not closely resemble their colorful wild cousins in terms of plumage, the common domesticated duck is actually the same species as the mallard.

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Full Answer

The species name for the mallard is Anas platyrhynchos; common domesticated ducks are considered a sub-species. Wild mallards can be found throughout the northern hemisphere. It is unclear where they were first domesticated, but they appear to have been bred in captivity from ancient times in both southeast Asia and north Africa. As of 2016, the most popular breed in the United States is the Pekin, originally developed in China.

Wild male mallards have very distinct plumage: iridescent green heads and black tails with blue-tipped wings. Wild females have drabber brown plumage. Pekin ducks are completely white.

The muscovy duck, Cairina moschata, is native to South America, and was first domesticated there by indigenous peoples. After colonization of the Americas began, the domesticated muscovy spread throughout Europe. It was also eaten in the British colonies and the early United States. Because muscovy ducks were introduced to Jewish settlers much later than mallards, there were religious disputes over whether the species was kosher and permissible to eat.

Male muscovies have a distinctly warty appearance, with patches of bare skin on their faces near their bills and eyes. Females are much smaller than males, and lack the warts, but are otherwise similar in appearance. Both have dark plumage.

The bufflehead, Bucephala albeola, is a wild duck native to North America. Females are grayish-brown while males have dark heads and backs and a large white patch that wraps around their bodies. They breed in Canada during the summer and migrate to the United States and parts of the Caribbean for the winter.

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