Marvelous Muscovies: A Genetic Mystery

A few weeks ago, we allowed a very committed broody Muscovy duck to incubate a clutch of 16 eggs. She did an outstanding job…and when the eggs hatched (35 days later), there was a surprise!

Our flock consists of chocolate and chocolate pied Muscovies only – some have very little white in their feathers, and others have more. We’ve hatched around 50 in incubators and broody ducks have hatched nearly 30. To date, all have shown the duckling coloring typical of chocolate: dusky brown markings on a yellow base, with four yellow dots on the back.

The broody (duck) obviously identified one of the eggs as unviable and removed it early on, leaving 15. 12 live ducklings hatched; the other 3 pipped but didn’t make it out of the shell (the membranes are extremely tough). Of the dozen that hatched, 11 had the expected coloring…but one was all yellow, with very faint tan edging on its tail.

We’re guessing this duck (or drake) will be mostly white, perhaps with some chocolate markings (like a reverse pied?), but time will ultimately tell. In any case, it’s as cute as can be.

Ducklings can drown unless they can easily get out of the water. This wading pool is on a sloped surface, is only partly full and transitions to dry at the top. The ducklings can safely and easily go from swimming in the deeper end to resting at the dry end.

7 of the ducklings have been rehomed, so 5 remain. They’re now three weeks old and the yellow one is gaining some interesting coloration: more brown has appeared! This one is clearly going to keep us guessing.

What do you think this unusual duckling will look like when fully feathered?

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