April’s Duck of the Month – Cayuga the Yankee Doodle Duck

Black and Beautiful

April’s Duck of the Month

Yankee Doodle Duck

Born & Bred in America

Classy

Hi. My name is Smudge and my younger friend is Midnight. We are born and bred in America and are both quite patriotic. We are Cayugas which are the only breed of domestic duck originating in Northern America. Cool, huh?

We were both named by Yvette’s friends who work in insurance. I was named by Lisa who works at Grange Insurance and Midnight was named by Heidi who works making websites with the Nick Watson Agency.

You might notice that I am part white. We Cayugas are jet black and in the sun we have a gorgeous beetle green. I was all black like Midnight a couple years ago but then I started getting some white feathers. This year, as you can see, I have a lot of white. You don’t need to be startled because this happens quite often. Cayugas, especially the girls, get mottled with white as we get older. I’m only two now and didn’t expect to be quite this white by now. I hope my white feathers make me look classy and distinctive.

Hi, My name is Midnight. I am a Cayuga Duck and Cayugas are real Americans. You can read more about that later.

Momma & Poppa Duck adopted me and two other ducks last fall when we were still pretty young. Probably someone abandon us after Easter but we’ll never know for sure.

Momma & Poppa Duck wanted to adopt some more duckies so Momma Duck contacted a lady named Judy who rescued us from a local lake.

I’m a little shy but I’m willing to eat goodies from Momma Duck’s hand. I especially like dried meal worms. I like them even more when they are thrown on the water. All of us shoot out in the water hoping to get to them first. I’d never had treats like frozen peas, watermelon, lettuce, bean sprouts and dried cat food until we moved up here to our new home. I was a bit leery of them at first but now I think they are great.

It’s nice having some new friends. I hang out with Winchester who has been with my new owners for quite a while. Most of all time though, I hang out with the two buddies who were adopted the same time I was. We’ve all grown a lot since we showed up. Trixter even changed from female to male plumage since we came. It tricked the lady who rescued us but didn’t fool Mamma and Poppa Duck for a minute.

The Cayuga duck is the only breed originating in North America. The name “Cayuga,” is taken from Cayuga Lake, so called after a local Native American tribe in New York State where the breed originated.

The Cayuga is a medium-weight duck, weighing an average 8 pounds for mature males and 7 pounds for females. The Cayuga have a jet black bill with occasional olive tips and the feet are black to dusky. The plumage is a beautiful jet black with an iridescent beetle green shimmer in the right light. The wing tips shine from green to deep purple as the light direction changes. Ducklings are coated in fuzzy black down that won’t show green until the feathers come in. As the duck ages the feathers will eventually become mottled with white until it’s almost all white. This changing of colors occurs much quicker in females than males. In addition, their black legs turn more orange as they mature.

To be honest, while studying the Cayuga before writing this post, I found that much of what I read doesn’t seem to follow my own two Cayuga. For example, the only blackish egg was a tiny black egg that I think was laid by Smudge before she started producing on a regular basis. The eggs are not a dark grey. The ones mine lay are a slight gray but not enough to make them distinctive.

They are a friendly, mostly quiet duck. Mine quack a few louder quacks when they see me approaching the pen but other than that, they are not very loud. These ducks are also very intelligent. I have one that leads the way to the trash can each morning, knowing that I’ll come along and tilt the can so she can search for worms. She must remember that huge earthworm she found the first time. She is the only duck in our flock that does this so she must be quite smart.

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