When a Muscovy duckling hatches, you can’t say, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” All you can do is look at the cute fluffball and say, “It’s a baby!”
Three months later, it’s no longer a baby, but it still hasn’t said what it is. Why did they have to make it so difficult? Why couldn’t they just hatch with pink and blue bills or something?
They sure do like to keep it a secret–but they do spill the beans eventually. Even though male and female Muscovies may look identical as babies, and may not seem to change much as they mature, there are some subtle differences that reveal their little secret.
Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to determine the gender of a day-old duckling (except by vent sexing). However, differences do start showing up after a few weeks. This article contains a complete list of methods to sex young ducks, in order of the approximate age the duckling will be when these differences become visible. Differences in the bill and feathers show up first, by three or four weeks. Differences in voice and caruncles show up much later, by about sixteen weeks of age. In general, the differences that show up later are more reliable, so the older your Muscovy duck is, the easier it will be to tell if it’s a boy or girl.
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- What DOESN’T Work
- Vent Sexing
- Body Proportions
- Caruncle Growth
- Body Language
- How to Sex Adult Ducks
- Comparison Photo Gallery (Adult Ducks)
- Gallery: Five Ducklings Growing Up
What DOESN’T Work
Most of the standard methods for sexing ducks don’t work on Muscovies. (If you have regular Mallard-derived ducks, check out my article on sexing non-Muscovy ducks here.)
Whether Muscovies are even true ducks or not is disputed. Some think they’re closer to geese.
For example, male ducks of Mallard-derived breeds (basically, all the domestic duck breeds except the Muscovy) have curly “sex feathers,” or drake feathers, on their tail. I’ve seen many people asking on forums whether their Muscovy is a male or female and being told to wait until the sex feathers come or don’t come in. I suppose Muscovies are always girls then.
Nope, Muscovy drakes do not grow these “sex feathers.”
You can discern the sex of many other breeds of ducks by their feather or bill color. For example, female and male Mallards have very distinctly different feather coloration, and Abacot Rangers not only have different coloration, but show a different bill color even before they are feathered. However, you can NOT sex Muscovies by their feather or bill color.
Some people also think only Muscovy drakes have the tall crests that resemble mohawks. However, both drakes and ducks have crests. It’s just that ducks generally have smaller crests.
Sometimes an owner will see their duck investigating their nest boxes and jump to the conclusion they’ve got a girl. Wonderful, they think! They wanted it to be a girl so badly.
Not so fast there! Ducks of either sex investigate nest boxes out of pure curiosity. It means nothing–unless they are actually laying down in the nest and scratching and scraping. That is nesting behavior, and it usually signifies a female.
And now, here are ten ways that do work to tell whether your Muscovy duck is a male or a female.
Method #1: Vent Sexing
Since there is no sexual dimorphism in ducklings, there’s only one surefire method to know the sex before eight weeks of age: vent sexing. This involves using your hands to invert a duckling’s vent, or cloaca, to reveal the sexual organs. This is easiest on day-old ducklings, but it’s easy to hurt the duckling if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Here’s a video about vent sexing from Metzer Farms:
Beginners may find it hard to get the hang of vent sexing, so until you’re a pro, it’s not entirely reliable, because you’ll either end up with “definitely male” or “maybe female, maybe male.” Just because you don’t see a penis doesn’t always mean it’s a female, because you may not have fully inverted the cloaca.
I don’t recommend this, because it’s so easy for a beginner to injure the duckling, and because beginners have such a high chance of error.
However, you can usually see visual differences in Muscovies by the time they are four to eight weeks old, sometimes even younger, depending on your experience level and how fast they grow.
Method #2: Bill
There is a very subtle difference between the bills of male and female Muscovies. Males will have flatter, wider, straighter “platypus” bills, and females will have pointier, more narrow, curvier bills with more of a ridge in the middle. I don’t trust this method, as it’s such a slight difference and not always reliable, but it does give me an early clue.
This can show up extremely early, even before ducklings start gaining feathers, possibly even as early as two or three weeks of age.
Method #3: Feathers
The earliest clearly visible difference between male and female Muscovy ducklings is feather growth, which shows up when they are approximately four weeks old. The females’ feathers grow much faster and earlier than the males. The first ducklings with feather sprouts around the wings, tail, and belly are likely females.
Besides showing up early, this difference is quite reliable and, with some practice, fairly easy to spot. It’s by far my favorite method for sexing ducklings.
Method #4: Feet
The feet of young male ducks tend to look out of proportion in comparison to their body. Even before there is much body size difference between males and females, males often have much larger feet than females. Their legs will also be thicker, while females will have very slender legs.
Sometimes this difference is quite noticeable. Other times, it never really is, even in adults.
You’ll usually notice this (if you do at all) around four to seven weeks of age.
Method #5: Body Proportions
As adults, drakes are often twice the size of ducks. In ducklings, it won’t be the first difference, but males start outgrowing the females around five to eight weeks old. Males also tend to have a more pronounced and prominent breast; females’ breasts will be smooth and streamlined. Males will have longer bodies; females will have shorter bodies. Males will also have a slightly bigger and longer head. In general, males will be chunkier and more “boyish,” and the females will be more round and curvy.
Method #6: Behavior
Males will often appear lazier than the females. Their legs grow quicker (as well as the rest of the body), which perhaps makes them sore (remember “growing pain”?). Whatever the cause, males tend to be less active than females in the early stages. Eventually this difference fades, but it is most evident when the ducklings are two to four weeks old.
Various Muscovy keepers, including myself, have observed that males appear to nibble fingers and clothes more than females, but this is not a proven method. This can even be noted in ducklings under a week old.
Males have a wider stance than females. In fact, females step on their own feet frequently. Of course, this doesn’t mean females won’t have their feet wide apart at some point and the males won’t ever have their feet close together. I’m not sure exactly when you might start noticing this, but I believe it would be about when they are eight weeks old.
Method #7: Tail
Males will have wide, U-shaped tails and females will have narrow, tapering, V-shaped tails. However, this isn’t always reliable. Females can fan their tail out, such as when they’re broody, flying, or upset. And males’ tails can look almost as pointy as females’ tails at times. However, most of the time, there is a clear difference. The only problem? This difference is too vague to be reliable until the ducks are nearly fully feathered (about twelve weeks old). By then, you’ll probably know anyway.
Method #8: Caruncle Growth
The males will be the first ones to start growing caruncles (the red warty facial mask on adult Muscovies). The females will grow caruncles as well, only a lot slower, and their caruncles will never grow as large as the males’ will.
This is quite reliable. I’ve never seen a female with more caruncles than a male, or a female that grew her caruncles earlier or even at the same time as a male.
Males start growing caruncles around sixteen weeks of age; females only kick in when they’re about twenty weeks old.
Method #9: Voice
The males will lose their voices as they transition from adolescents to adults (about when they are twelve to sixteen weeks old) and will appear dumb for a while. Eventually, the males will gain the adult male’s hiss, or huff, an obvious difference from the females’ musical murmuring.
This is a SUREFIRE method to tell the sexes apart. Drakes can make no other sound, apart from their hissing or huffing. If you have adult Muscovies, listen to what sounds it makes, and you will immediately know if it’s a male or female.
Both the males and females are talking simultaneously here, but you can still clearly hear the difference between the drake and his girls:
Method #10: Body Language
There is one final difference that is not easily apparent to a first-timer, but with some time and experience, it will become the first visible difference. Simply, the males will just act masculine and the females will just act feminine. Once you learn duck body language, you will start noticing the little indescribable quirks that differ between males and females, things such as the duckling’s posture and walk, etc. They’re impossible to explain and only visible through experience.
How to Sex Adult Ducks
As adults, males are easily identifiable. Their caruncles are much fuller and more prominent, and they are approximately double the size of the females. The females are small, petite, and have minimal caruncling. Males also still have larger feet, U-shaped tails, and a wide stance.
Even if you only have one individual and don’t have others to compare with, the voice will tell you. Drakes have a hoarse hiss, while ducks utter a pleasant, quiet sound something like a musical whimper. Again: listen to the voice, and you’ll know.
It’s good to look at ALL the features when trying to sex ducklings, because sometimes boys and girls will be approximately the same size, have feathers come in at about the same rate, or be identical in other factors. One factor isn’t necessarily enough.
In 2015, we had one duckling we had no gender consensus on. Its feathers came in slow, its caruncles came in fast, and its feet were huge, as big as our boys’ feet. But she turned out to be a girl.
Another time, we were buying two drakes to add genetic diversity to our flock. The seller’s Muscovies were all small, and in adults, size is one of the first things I go by because it’s the most obvious. I asked the seller which ones were males, and she pointed at a puny white Muscovy that I was positive was smaller than my girls. I didn’t believe her until he hissed (which is a dead giveaway).
Take heart, even if you have boyish girls or girlish boys. You can always wait until they’re adults. And with practice, it gets easy.
Comparison Photo Gallery
All of these Muscovies are adults. Drakes are on the right, and ducks are on the left. Click any image to enlarge it.
Gallery: Five Ducklings Growing Up
Bugs, Zing, Cricket, Paper, and Pop are five Muscovy ducklings we hatched in early 2018.
- Bugs is a black female. She’s the one on the far right, below.
- Zing is a blue barred female (she had yellow down, and grew up to look gray). She’s in the middle in the picture below.
- Cricket is a black female, second from the right. She was definitely a “boyish girl”: we actually thought she was a boy for quite a long time. She’s a good example of why no method is perfectly reliable, and of how subtle the differences can sometimes be.
- Paper is a silver male, on the far left.
- Pop is a silver male, second from the left.
4 weeks old
For more information on Muscovy ducks, see our Muscovy Duck page in the Duck Breed Guide.
Liked this article? Comment below and tell us what you thought!
I liked your article as it gave clear definitions of the gender difference. Also, I have a couple of ladies from last years hatch with very little caruncles and was concerned that they didn’t look true to breed – but reading you notes it would appear its not that unusual.
Glad you liked it! Some Muscovies have so little caruncles that the patch around their eyes doesn’t even connect to their bill. Personally, I like it that way, but it’s possible that show birds are “supposed” to have more.
Many thanks for this article and your help, out of the three ducks we have recently acquired, two are Muscovy ducks, we appear to have a drake and hen so hopefully some ducklings next year.
Just got our first ducklings. I have no idea what sexes they are. This was very helpful. So far they look alike but are only 3 weeks. Might be harder for us since we only have 2. But will bookmark to check all the signs as they age.
Had bought 4 muscivi ducks.
But got confused which sex they are.
Now i think i can know.
So really glad found your page.
Will send you pic to see if i guessed right.
Thank you! We are picking up our first Muscovy ducklings soon and I’m going to try these methods! They are 3-5 weeks old, so hopefully I’ll make some gold guesses, educated by your site!!! 💪🐣🐥🐤
You’re welcome! Good luck and have fun! You’ll likely need to wait a few more weeks before you’ll be able to make good guesses, but it won’t hurt to start guessing anytime.
This has been very helpful. I accepted a rehoming of 5 ducklings around 6 weeks old and am getting them ready for our pond in about 6 weeks. Thank you for the information.
Very useful, truth
Very useful article! I wish I had seen this sooner all the while trying to guess my two Muscovies sex.
Wonderful. You sound so experienced w Muscovies. Can you email me? I’m new and having a hard time.. lots of questions!
I emailed you. If you see this but didn’t get my email, please check your spam. Thank you!
Great information, thank you so much!
I thought this article was great, emailed you with pictures of one duck that just has me stumped
Quite impressive and will be put in practice as it really helps a lot in contributing to my Muscovy Duck backyard farming. Can you email me more about?
Excellent article. I now know both my ducks are girls!!!! Thank you soo much!
Wonderful! I’m so glad it helped you.
This page is EXCELLENT! We have 4 ducks and one drake. Two clutches from two hens (who ended up sharing the nest and lings) with the other two now sitting on eggs. Yikes! I have a world of questions, but your explanations are so clear and beautifully illustrated, that I will wait to ask them until after I have finished reading all of your articles. Good work, girl, and thanks so much!
I sent an email regarding 4 of my muscovies, pretty sure we had a strait run of males. Just wanted to verify.Thanks so much for the article. very helpful!
Hi, can you tell me if the drake assists with the new ducklings ? Or is it best to separate them ?
No, the drake doesn’t assist. Most drakes ignore them, or peck them if they get too close. But I’ve heard of some Muscovy drakes killing ducklings. You can keep ducklings in the same area as a drake, but you have to be careful and very observant at first to be sure they are not being bullied or worse.
Interesting, my wife and I made our living for over 40 years, vent sexing millions of day old chicks and turkeys and also ducks, geese, pheasants and one type of quail.
Vent sexing is a highly skilled job, requiring at least a year of practice nearly every day to learn chick sexing. Turkeys are also difficult, ducks are easier but still require skill to avoid having some die. We didn’t sex too many Muscovy but did do some for Ridgway Hatchery in La Rue, Ohio. They are still in business, selling back yard chicks, turkeys and ducks. They do sell some Muscovy if anyone is interested in buying some day old ducklings.
Chick sexing was the main part of our business, working at commercial egg layer hatcheries that may hatch 50,00 to 100,00 leghorn egg type chicks in a day four days a week. Later they developed a feather sexed strain that didn’t require as much skill. So we worked for years at a turkey hatchery that hatched over 10 million turkeys a year. We were always self employed and traveled all over Ohio, Indiana and neighboring states to do our trade.
What is interesting is I also raised Muscovy ducks when I was a kid, raising them for showing at fairs and for meat. Loved the breed.
Very interesting, thanks for sharing!
I have 4 ducklings, unsure of their sex.
I believe I may have 3 boys and 1 girl. I do not intend to breed. They are simply pets. My question is this…… will we have problems because there are more boys than girls?
Yes, unfortunately, you will almost certainly have problems. They are likely to kill her. You would need about fifteen girls to be safe, with that many boys. I think the best option would be to rehome the female, if they’re only pets. You could also rehome all three boys and get more girls, although that would be more difficult. Or you could only rehome two of them, although sometimes there can be problems with overmating even with only one drake. Or you could even get a whole bunch more girls.
I hope you find a good solution!
I started with a chocolate drake and two ducks, a black and blue all as ducklings. Another much older drake that was abandoned near our home has become buddies with our drake and than last year we had two stakes that survived out of the litter the girls shared =4 drake+ 2 ducks. We haven’t had a problem so much with the girls as they have a pen they can fly into to eat//nest in peace and my boys are not as eger to fly. But my younger boys are often bullied by the stray. I have to feed and water in separate areas. The The younger ones sometimes stay with the girls , as they still are small enough to fly some, we now have 14 babies that no one bothers. Both my brothers get along fine. I will add that in the spring I will be more protective of my girls by putting a screen on the shared wall as my boys will walk the fence and stress my girls. All mine are pets and fair winners so we didn’t want to get rid of any of them. I plan on keeping most of the girls we have and maybe one boy who looks very promising. I am always watching and have noticed most of the differences you shared but its so nice to have the about ages they show up, etc. I have found a new way that has so far (only 3 litters) been 100% accurate with 1-2 old muscovy ducklings. I’m so excited! Now if I could know what they were going to look like prior to being fully feathered!
We have a variety of ducks, if the females Muscovy gets breed with say a khaki Campbell will her off springs be sterile? I read where the Muscovy drakes breed a different breed they will be sterile. Just wondering if its the same for females.
Yes. The offspring of a Muscovy drake to a duck of a different breed is called a mule or mulard, while a Muscovy female to a drake of a different breed is called a hinny. Both are sterile. However, female hinnies do lay eggs (although they cannot hatch), while female mules don’t.
How noisy are the Hinnies? Maybe they are the ducks I’ve been dreaming of. I’d love the quiet muscovys with the snail eating capacity of a mallard type duck. Eggs would be a sweet bonus.
I’m currently raising my first four Muscovy and hoping they are not all boys….
Thanks for the sexing help!
I think they would make sounds similar to a Muscovy and be fairly quiet. Normal Muscovies will eat snails too, by the way. It’s not specific to Mallard-type ducks. Good luck with your four!
Hope that helps!
Hi, I found your article very helpful, but I can still see characteristics of each sex in my duckling. I sent you an email the other day, hoping you would take a look and see what you thought. Thanks for your time !
I’m sorry, I haven’t seen any emails from you. Maybe it didn’t go through for some reason. Can you send it again?
Thank you, Now I’m sure my Covy is a girl. Born around August 15.
Really appreciated your article. Thanks so much!
Question: do Covies ever wag their tail Feathers in appreciation like when you feed them or ‘talk’ to them?
I think there are multiple meanings for the tail wag. I’ve noticed that Muscovy ducks often wag their tails to express relief, right after something unpleasant happens. They also do a lot of tail wagging while talking, arguing, and fighting with other ducks. And they also wag their tails while making “happy sounds” when you give them food. So yes, like with dogs, it seems to mean happiness, but it can mean other things too.
Thanks so much for your reply. We just met a Muscovy in AZ and he has been so entertaining!!
I’m sending pictures.
Is there a way of determining the difference between a muscovy duckling and a mallard strain of duckling? We were given three ducklings that are about 6 weeks old now and they act so different from the mallard strain back yard ducks we keep. Apologies if this is a daft question.
Oh yes, there are plenty of differences, most of them subtle. The two easiest ways to tell a young Muscovy duckling from a Mallard-type duckling are the stripe on the eye and the bean on the tip of the bill. Mallards or other types of ducks will have a black stripe that goes from their bill to the back of their head, going through the eye. Muscovies will only have half of this stripe, from the eye to the back of the head. Muscovies will also often (although it’s not guaranteed) have a light-colored “bean” on the tip of their bill, which Mallard-derived ducklings will not have.
I’m not sure if the eye stripe will still be visible by 6 weeks, but maybe you have pictures of when they were younger. By six weeks, there will be other differences that should actually be quite noticeable, but are kind of hard to explain. To an experienced eye, there are differences everywhere–their feet, their tail, their body, their head shape, the very beginnings of caruncles, the feather color–basically everything will be different. But it’s not necessarily going to be apparent if you don’t have experience, and I’m not sure how to describe the differences.
If you’d like, you can go to my Contact page and send me pictures, and I can try to tell you what breed they are.
Hope that helps!
Hi I really enjoyed your article I have 1 male and 2 female muscovy ducks and have just recently hatched 4 ducklings 2 from incubator and 2 under duck , one of my ducklings was fine then I found it with it’s leg right back and dragging no movement. So the little one is at home with me but getting better everyday and hopefully can rejoin it’s family in next couple of days
Thanks! I hope the duckling recovers!
Hi Hannah, your article was excellent. A couple of months ago we took in 6 Muscovy ducklings as a favor for a friend who lives in the city.. We have a hobby farm and thought well we can probably take them.. They are now 4 months old and we realised 5 out of the 6 are males!! We thought we noticed Jenny getting increasingly nervous so we rehomed her with the drake we thought she hung out with the most. Re the remaining drakes..we only want them as pets and so far they have been quite lovely to interact with.. Do you think though that when they reach sexual maturity we will start to have problems?? Just want to think ahead as we don’t want to get too attached if we’ll need to part with them down the track.. Thanks in advance for your time and reply, Cathy
5 out of 6? That’s unlucky! However, with the female gone, I think everything will be fine. Many people keep “bachelor flocks” of only drakes. They don’t fight as much if there are no females to fight over. There will probably be some fighting, but in general, groups of only males tend to do quite well and maintain peace.
If they’re living with chickens, however, that could pose a problem. Without any female ducks, they could be tempted to go after the chickens, and that would be deadly, because chickens and ducks have drastically different reproductive systems, and the drake could kill the chicken if he tries to mate her. Thus, if you have chickens, be sure the drakes are housed separately.
Hope that helps!
Thanks so much Hannah.. That’s great.. Our chickend are in a completely different space…
Hello! May I still email you with sexing questions..? I had my first set of ducklings hatch! Yay! Now to sex them.. lol!
Sure, go ahead! However, if they’ve just hatched, it’s going to be almost impossible to sex them except by vent sexing. Around four weeks is when they start showing outward differences.
my intent is to keep a pair and have duck dinners with the rest . The meat for well fed drake Muscovi tastes more like good lamb than duck so my belief is they are geese as they graze like geese sound like geese and taste a bit like geese rather than any duck I have ever eaten or kept.Good roasters are the ones that are culled as if not the flock would reach 200 birds in now time. They go broody twice a year and lay around 50 eggs each then sit. We use eggs for baking and boiling for breakfast. If 10 females sit 6 eggs each twice a year is 60 duckings x 60 duckings =120 birds a year. You do the math and work out how to keep just a few as pets? I have placed hen eggs under her but she is a good mother but cant show her babies how to feed. She only eats with loads of water. Hen chicks like it dry. Hen eggs under hens and less ducks to worry over is my plan .Kahki Campbells we used to keep for eggs but found they are not the best layers but are the best duck to own. Clip wings of Muscovies early as they are really wood ducks or Geese that like tree branches as high as possible from you. They will fly to the nearest lake and be eaten by fox or lynx here. Best way is buy a clipper gun and pinions into the wing joint so it cant fly. They do not do well of ponds or water as they fail to have a mallard dicks oils in feathers .Like a bath 8 inch deep so they have batch in rather than try to swim. I have a pond but they tried swimming for about half hour and gave that up for good. So mine have settled well with hens but both have own housing. Sane fenced in yard to wander about in with access to gardens last hour prior to sleep. Doctor greens for all of them in the herbage grass lawns and wild bit I leave for then alone. They do eat slugs and insects and can jump high catching flies.
Thank you very much for writing this article. It is very informative for us trying to sex our “Muscovy” ducks.
Reading about the differences between mules and hinnies, and also listening to the sounds ducks and drakes I have a couple questions….
Is there an easy way to tell if we have a hinnies or mules?
Will a pure Muscovy duck ever produce sounds other than the hiss or chirps?
Thanks again for posting the fantastic article.
Sorry, I don’t know about the hinnies and mules question. There hasn’t really been any research on them and I don’t know anyone who has a lot of experience with both.
Male Muscovy ducks can’t make any other sounds other than the hiss as far as I know. They do have several types of hiss, though. Female Muscovies actually are capable of producing quite a variety of sounds. They squeak when they’re broody, hiss when they’re trying to scare something away (it sounds different from the drakes’ hiss, but it’s still a hiss or huff), honk loudly when they’re in trouble (when being attacked, especially, whether it be by another duck or a real predator), and can make many types of chirps and trills.
Hope that helps!
Ahhh….thanks again Hannah
Looks like we may have at least one female as she will honk when my kid tries to pick her up (she is a bit timid). She definitely fits the description of a female Muscovy – low ridge on the beak, feet closer together, smaller breast, and tapered tail feathers. Now knowing that only females will honk adds to the evidence that she is actually a she. Our second duck (a white/yellow one….the first is more brown) is almost identical in all physical aspects and is even the same age, size, and weight. I am guessing that it may also be a female.
Thanks for the great information Hannah.
Glad to help! I agree that they sound like they’re both females. You can also send me pictures of your ducks if you’d like to be more sure: https://www.raising-ducks.com/contact/
I have a quick question about my 3 that I kept from my “accidental” clutch. They are 4 weeks old exactly and their bellies and chests are almost completely feathered out, and I can feel on their wings where quills might be coming in. Their wing caps are also coming in nicely. The only thing is one is significantly bigger than the others, does that weird sit/stand thing but is on par with the feathers as the other ones. All 3 also have some pretty big feet and thick legs. I am so torn on weather or not they are girls! I can email you some pictures if you’d like!
Sure, you can email me pictures! I can’t really tell just from your description, but I should be able to get a pretty decent guess from looking at them. Sometimes 4-week-olds can be a bit difficult, but other times it’s pretty easy.
Have just been given some muscovy ducks and am not sure if male or female.
I then desided to purchase 2 females 5 months old and 2 ducklings not super young. 1 female just bought was excepted other not so much and ducklings not at all. How do I handle this? And can you help me sex them
It’s common for new ducks to not be accepted by older/more established ones, especially if the new ones are young. I would recommend putting them in two enclosures side by side so the older ones can see the new ones but can’t bully them. After a few days, you can try putting them together in an area where they have plenty of space. Giving them activities such as a lettuce head to demolish or a pool will help distract them from fighting. If there’s some chasing/fighting, that’s okay and normal. The new ones need to find their place in the pecking order. If it lasts for too long or results in a lot of feather loss or injuries, you may need to separate them again. There’s not much you can do about bullying other than separating them, unfortunately.
Bullying/aggression can also happen if you have the wrong ratio of males to females, so make sure you don’t have too many males. If you want help with sexing them, you can send pictures to my email address:
(You should receive an email notification of this reply, so you can reply to it as well–even though it’s an automated message, I will see and respond to replies to it.)
Its gonna be super hard for me to tell with my little black barred muscovy because i have no other to compeare him to besides my buffs and cayugas 😬 my little guy was a rescued duckling who was dumped on the side of the road someone picked him up and called me because i had a batch of chicks hatching that day (he was super duper new)
Hopefully he’ll be a girl!! I cant deal with anymore drakes! I have 4 already and its unbearable for the girls!
Have you considered keeping a bachelor flock of only males? That’s the most effective way to keep multiple males if you can’t get more females. The proper ratio is 4-5 females per drake, and there can be serious issues if the ratio is wrong, so I’d recommend moving some of the drakes to a bachelor flock if you don’t have many females. 🙂
You can send me pictures of your Muscovy if you’d like, although I can’t always give an accurate guess from just pictures, especially if he/she is under 8 weeks old. Here’s my email address:
I’ve been raising muscovies for almost 4 years. I like to think I am pretty good by now at sexing ducklings.
There are two things I always look for when sexing ducklings:
1. Male ducklings are much more verbal than female ducklings. When they’re hungry or somehow wandered away from Momma, the boy ducklings make the loudest “Peep! PEEP!” Females will “peep”, but it’s a much more ladylike “peep”.
2. Male ducklings will sit down with their legs out straight. They just “plop” down and their legs and feet are out straight from their bodies. Females will occasionally sit like this, mostly when they’re two weeks old or younger, but males will do this frequently.
3. Male ducklings like to playfully “scrap” each other, especially when they’re two days old to about a week old. Females don’t exhibit this behavior, that I’ve noticed.
I have raised 2 ducks that I swear switched sexes in adolescence.. I can’t explain it, one went from male to female, and the other was a female to male. So in the end there is a possibility of gender-bending, but rare.
Take Care and Stay Safe! We’re on insta @mauimuscovymulitia
Thanks for your comments! These are interesting observations. There do seem to be various behavioral differences between male and female ducklings, but I don’t know of any that are completely reliable. They’re good clues, though. I’ve noticed some differences in the way they sit, too.
Ducks switching genders is extremely rare, so it sounds like you just had a very boyish girl and a very girlish boy. I too have had a couple ducklings I thought I knew the gender of, but as they matured, it turned out I was wrong.
Awesome article, glad I found it. I was guessing sex based on behaviours (mainly by my runner drake towards the female muscovies) and size. You have some gorgeous muscovies- I am new to them and have browns and blacks, I have never seen the silvery ones. I hatched mine from eggs I received in exchange for some guinea keets.
Thanks! Muscovies come in a lot of cool color varieties. Black, white, blue, silver, and chocolate are the main colors. And then there are a lot of rare colors like lavender, bronze, lilac, cream, and more. These also come in various patterns: solid, magpie, barred, rippled, or looney. I’ve only got black, white, blue, and silver ducks, but it’s quite fascinating!
New to raising ducks but enjoy reading your articles as you actually are raising ducks not like some of the other sites I checked out. I live I a rural town on several acres. A few months ago we started having Muscovies visit daily One female gifted us with eggs which she promptly forgot about. I bought an incubator and so far have two healthy ducklings. They are a joy to sit with and their antics make my day. They are truly smart birds that let me know what they wasnt__like when they want a swim in their pool. It is separate from their house so I can be sure they are safe. [They are 2 weeks old] thank you for sharing your knowledge it really helps
I’ve glad you’ve enjoyed my site! Welcome to the world of ducks. Muscovies are definitely smart. They are marginally more intelligent than regular Mallard-derived ducks and also chickens. Enjoy your duckies. 🙂
hi i also need help, from your blog i still confuse about my two mucovy duck that grownup i think 4 months but i need help to identify their gender can you help me or do you have any social network where i can quick chat with you about gender, you can sent email to me to notify me ill check if you have response or not i will be very thankfull for your help .
I’ll send you an email. 🙂
Do you know if a muscovy will get along with 2 cayucas? I have 2 16-month old cayucas and wonder if I should adopt this muscovy which is abandoned at a park. Both my cayucas are female.
They can get along, but Muscovies have different body language and vocalizations than Mallard-derived ducks, so it’s best (not essential, but best) if a Muscovy can have other Muscovy friends as well. Ducks are individuals, though, so how well the Muscovy gets along with your Cayugas is hard to predict.
If you rescue the Muscovy, I would recommend quarantining her before introducing her to your Cayugas so as to not spread disease or parasites.
Thank you Hannah. That makes perfect sense. The abandoned Muscovy could be a young male because its feet are rather large. It seems to be full of confident as I saw it enjoyed the park so I decided to not taking it in. My 2 Cayugas are a close knit pack and like you said, it’s not easy to predict what would happen.
Maybe he’s feral rather than abandoned. If he seems to be able to feed himself, it’s likely he’s not abandoned. I agree that it might upset your Cayugas a lot and it might not be worth taking him in if he seems to be doing all right anyway.
Good point! 🙂
Love this page, it is the one I link in Facebook whenever the subject of “what sex is this” comes up on the Muscovy lists I’m on.
I’m glad it has been helpful for you and others! Thanks for sharing my page. 🙂
That is so stupid…there is a huge gap between 9 – 20 I was only interested in 10-19 weeks
Sorry about that! We stopped taking pictures of that batch of ducklings after nine weeks for some reason. I don’t remember why, but I think we already knew their sex by then and were busy. I’m fully aware of the gap and have gotten annoyed with it myself when people send me pictures of 12-week-old ducklings and I head to my site to compare theirs with mine, only to remember.
If you’d like, I can dig through my files and see if I have any pictures of 10-19-week-old ducklings for you.
I’ve also got ducklings hatching in four weeks (hopefully!), so maybe I’ll redo this whole section with new pictures.
Great article. Very informative and practical. Thanks
I have 2 Muscovy Ducks I was told a girl and a boy,I only clean the shed out once a week as there out all day in the garden and only go into sleep,I looked in yesterday to find 7 eggs in 5 days and today there is another 2 I thought it was unusual for them to lay 2 at a time,do I have 2 girls? Help and advice needed please at the moment I’ve left all eggs inside the nest there is only 1 nest Many thanks
It’s possible for ducks to lay two eggs in one day:
However, I think it’s more likely that you have two females. Ducks like to share nests, so all the eggs being in one nest is not unusual.
If you can’t tell if they’re male or female, feel free to send me pics of them and I can probably tell you. 🙂
We have a lone muscovy duck in the community pond and I have heard nothing from it to be able to sex it. However we have had a pair of swans that are trying to nest at the pond but the muscovy sits on their nests. Last year, we noticed swan eggs on the nest but i think the muscovy ate them. We would love to get the muscovy rehomed so that the swans can breed. What can we do?
That’s interesting behavior. I would suggest finding someone who can relocate the Muscovy. You can also try to find it a home or sanctuary, but that may be challenging. Muscovies are very difficult to rehome, and many sanctuaries don’t accept them.
Fantastic information and photos! This is really the best article I’ve seen by far on Muscovy ducks and their differences.
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.
my poor magpie peking mix lost his girl the other day and i added two muscovies both girls but why is one of the females slightly pecking my magpie drake occasionally while eating??
It’s probably a pecking order thing. It’s less common for females to boss drakes around, but it happens. Muscovy females can be particularly bossy. And they’re a separate species from other Mallard-derived ducks like your drake, so maybe that’s why they have no qualms about putting a drake below them in the pecking order.
They may stop doing this once they get used to him, or perhaps not. As long as they don’t outright bully him, it shouldn’t be a problem.
I must say that this shared information was EXCEPTIONAL. I am so glad
that I found you. This will help me so much in housing, etc, when buying
unsexed Muscovys. Thank you so much.
This is quite useful! One of my female ducks, called Harper had hatched 8 ducklings, and I was so confused on their genders even 6 1/2 months in. Now I can go back and check properly.
But I also have got some muscovy cross pekin ducks, so I will have a look at the regular sexing for ducks because of this. Again, thank you!