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I met these three Muscovy ducks during this morning’s walk around Roath Park lake. I’ve not seen them before so I’m not sure if they’re recent escapees from a local waterfowl collection or not-so-local farmyard, or are feral – they were certainly friendly enough, toddling over to beg for food.

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The Muscovy (Cairina moschata) isn’t native to Britain, nor does it come from the area around Moscow, in Russia, which is what the word Muscovy normally means. This duck came originally from Central and South America but has been domesticated by the Native Americans since pre-Columbian times, and has long been introduced to many other countries.

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Being larger than the mallard, Muscovy are favoured for eating and apparently have a stronger flavour, which some liken to the taste of roast beef. In culinary circles, the bird is known as Barbary duck so don’t be confused when you see Barbary on the menu – you’re actually eating Muscovy. Since their introduction to Britain, many birds have escaped or been released from domestic confinement, so there is now quite a large wild population. And, in case you’re wondering, the name actually refers to the strong musk odour the bird produces from a small pouch below its beak.

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