The Call Duck

23rd June 2010

Distribution: Worldwide.

The Call Duck is a domesticated breed first recorded in the Netherlands in the 17th century, but it is believed to have originally come from the Far East, perhaps Japan, although no records of its introduction to the Netherlands exist. It was introduced to Britain by the 1850s, and as soon as 1865, it had become one of the first six waterfowl breeds to be standardized there. By the middle of the 20th century, though, interest for them had declined and they had become rare. Determined efforts by a few breeders repopularized the breed and today they are common again. In the US, the Grey and White varieties were listed in the first Standard of Perfection in 1874. They are popular exhibition birds and win more duck championships in shows in North America than any other breed. They also are the most popular breed duck in Europe, and can nowadays be found worldwide.

Status: The Call Duck is very common.

Habitat: All types of water, though it is a domesticated animal.

General habits: The Call Duck is an energetic and active duck, and this sprightly little bird is an able flyer, unlike other breeds of domstic ducks.

Feeding habits: Aquatic creatures, marsh plants.

Breeding habits: The Call Duck lays large nests of eggs about once a year, and does not tend to brood. Unlike their wild counterparts, domestic ducks have become polygamous.

Eggs: The number of eggs a Cal Duck lays in a year varies a great deal. It generally produces 25–75 eggs a year, but some very good layers manage over 80, which is considered good for a Call Duck, since they are not like a Campbell which can lay over 300 per year. However, many Calls which have been bred for exhibition may lay only a few eggs - between 6 and 30 - or even none at all.

Eggs generally take 26-27 days to hatch, in contrast to the larger ducks which take 28-29.

Young: In good conditions Calls can live to be 10 years old, and even longer. Males tend to live longer than females, because females have the additional hazard of laying eggs.

Call: Though it is vocal with a high pitched call, the Call Duck primarily utilizes its very loud quack when separated from its mate; it also tends to quack when it is excited. The name "Call Duck" is an apt one since those ducks were often used to call ducks to them in the wild.

Description:. Call Ducks are primarily known for their very small size - they weigh around 570-680g for the male, 450-570g for the female -, and they are often referred to as toy ducks. Their plump bodies are short, bowl-shaped; they have a wide, rounded head and a thick neck; a tiny, broad bill and short legs. The Call Duck comes in a variety of standard colours including White, White-Bibbed Blue, Buff, Pastel, and Magpie. Nonstandard colours include Saxony, Spot, Khaki, Self-Chocolate, Cinnamon and Crested. For some reason, the Mallard pattern in Calls is known as Grey.

White Call Ducks, regardless of the sex, are entirely white with a bright orange-yellow bill and blue eyes.
Mallard Call Duck drakes have green and white heads and purple red breasts. The back is green and grey, the bill green. The Mallard Call Duck is primarily brown with a dark orange bill on a brown saddle. Pied drakes have the same green and white head as the mallard, with a white ring around the neck, white underside and white tail feathers. The female is similar in colouration, but often has more white.

The Silver drake's head resembles a mallard and its breast is a wine color. They have gray and black backs and green bills. The Silver female is primarily brown and grey coloured.

The Blue-Fawn male Call Duck has a grey blue breast and dark red body. The bill is green. Female Blue-Fawns have light brown bills and blue body feathers.

Apricot drakes resemble the Blue-Fawn variety, although they are lighter in colour. The duck, however, is apricot and grey in colour.

Magpie Call Ducks of both sexes resemble large magpie ducks.

Bibbed Call Ducks males and females are black, blue or lavender with white bibs. The bib is as even as possible, an inverted heart shape extending from the lower neck to the upper breast. Their outer wing flights are white, the drake has an olive bill, the duck a black one.

Did you know: The Latin name system for animal species was developed by Linnaeus (1707-1778) so that it would be universal. Life was divided into large groups called Phyla, and then into smaller groups which had similarities. We have still not got to the Call duck! It is believed that all domestic ducks (except the Muscovy) have been developed from the wild mallard. This means that the Indian Runner, the Call duck and the Rouen are very similar to each other. They are all the same species and can inter-breed. They do not therefore, each have their own Latin name. They are simply varieties of the same basic genetic material as the mallard.

The Call Duck is a bantam breed of domesticated duck raised primarily for decoration or as pets.

Did you know: A horrid fact is that their high-pitched distinctive call is used to lure other ducks into funnel traps. Later, hunters would tether Call Ducks to draw other species within range of the guns.

The Call Duck is also called: Decoy duck, Coy duck, Dwarf duck [English]; Kwakertjee [Dutch]; Zwerg-ent [German]; Mignon [French]