Feather-Sexing Ducks

Small and Backyard Flocks June 13, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

To feather-sex ducks, or determine the gender of ducks on the basis of their feathers, use the following guideline: A male duck, or drake, displays nuptial plumage—a curled feather on the tail—prior to and during the breeding season. Muscovy breed females do not have the curved sex feathers. 

Figure 1. Male mallard duck with nuptial plumage. Note the curled feather on the tail. Source: Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky

Figure 2. Female  mallard duck. Note the lack of the curled tailed feathers found on the male. Source: Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.