The name Muscovy would imply that that the duck comes from Moscow — which it doesn’t; the other name for this duck, Barbary Duck, Canard de Barbarie in French, would imply it is from the Barbary coast of North Africa (between Gibraltar and Egypt), which it doesn’t. Muscovy Ducks are in fact native to the New World, where they were domesticated before the arrival of Europeans.
Muscovy Duck is the only domesticated duck that isn’t descended from Mallard ducks. It can mate with European ducks, but the offspring are sterile.
They aren’t really water ducks the way Common Ducks are. Instead, their feet have claws to help them hang onto tree branches.
Muscovy Ducks have red, wart-like growths on their faces. They don’t quack, but they will hiss instead.
Wild ones are black and white, but domesticated ones are a range of colours.
Males grow up to 10 to 15 pounds (4 1/2 to 7 kg); females usually 5 to 7 pounds (2 1/4 to 3 kg.) The females can lay eggs 3 times a year.
When young, these ducks are considered very good eating, with lean, tender meat, with a taste more like veal than other duck. They have larger breasts than Common Ducks. Usually just the breast meat is sold, which is quite lean. Overall, they are less fatty than other ducks; in fact, their meat requires basting while cooking to prevent drying out.
As a Muscovy Duck gets old, its flesh can get stringy and acquire a musky taste and odour. Consequently they are best slaughtered, some say, before they develop their red wattles.
Muscovy Ducks are traditionally raised in southern and south-eastern France, where they are often mated with Rouen ducks for foie gras production. They are sold in the markets in France from September through February.