The Magpie is a British breed of domestic duck.[5][6][7] It has distinctive black and white markings reminiscent of the European magpie, and is a layer of large eggs.[8]: 46 

Magpie (duck) drake 2011-08-24 001.jpg
Head of a drake
Conservation statusFAO (2007): critical[1]: 124 
Country of originUnited Kingdom
APAlight duck[2]
  • Duck
  • Anas platyrhynchos
A typical Magpie duck.


Magpie was bred after the end of the First World War by M.C. Gower-Williams in Wales and Oliver Drake in Yorkshire.[9][5] The ancestry of the breed is not known; it may have included the Indian Runner, possibly with some influence of the Huttegem of Belgium. The Magpie was first documented in 1920; a breeders' club was formed in 1926.[7] At that time, two colour varieties were recognised, black-and-white and blue-and-white. The black-and-white variant remained the only colour recognised by the Poultry Club of Great Britain until 1997, when blue-and-white and dun-and-white became recognised.

The Altrheiner Elsterenten, a ducky with the same plumage pattern as the Magpie, was bred in Germany in the 1970s by Paul-Erwin Oswald.[4] The Entente Européenne treats it as the same breed.[3]

The Magpie was exported to the United States in 1963,[10]: 193 [11] but was not widely kept. It was admitted to the American Standard of Perfection in 1977.[8]: 58 


Named for its distinctive black and white plumage, reminiscent of the colouration of the European magpie, the typical example of the breed is predominantly white with two large black areas on the back and top of the head. As the bird age,s the black cap will normally begin to be flecked with white and may eventually become completely white.[8] Blue, silver, and chocolate are also colour varieties that Magpies can come in, with the latter being very rare. However, blue is the only other variety besides black that is recognised by the American Poultry Association.[8][12] Similar in shape to the Khaki Campbell, but more substantial, the Magpie is moderately streamlined with a somewhat upright carriage that suggests Indian Runner duck in its ancestral bloodline. The bill is yellow or orange, but turns green in older birds.[12] The legs and feet are orange but may be mottled. The chest is rounded and the neck moderately long.[8][12] Males have, when fully feathered, curled feathers on the tail. Females have, when fully feathered, straight feathers on the tail. Males weigh around 2.7 kg (6.0 lb) on average, and females around 2.5 kg (5+12 lb), although the American standard specifies 1 pound (0.45 kg) lower for each.[8] They lay between 220–290 large white eggs annually. They are a hardy variety, active foragers, and live for approximately 9 to 12 years.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Barbara Rischkowsky, D. Pilling (eds.) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Accessed January 2017.
  2. ^ APA Recognized Breeds and Varieties: As of January 1, 2012. American Poultry Association. Archived 4 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b Liste des races et variétés homologuée dans les pays EE (28.04.2013). Entente Européenne d’Aviculture et de Cuniculture. Archived 16 June 2013.
  4. ^ a b Breed Classification. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Archived 30 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b Breed Gallery: Ducks. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Accessed October 2018.
  6. ^ Victoria Roberts (2008). British poultry standards: complete specifications and judging points of all standardized breeds and varieties of poultry as compiled by the specialist breed clubs and recognised by the Poultry Club of Great Britain. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 9781405156424.
  7. ^ a b Chris Ashton, Mike Ashton (2001). The Domestic Duck. Ramsbury, Marlborough: The Crowood Press. ISBN 9781847979704.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Dave Holderread (2011). Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, second edition. North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Publishing. ISBN 9781603427456.
  9. ^ Magpie. Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Accessed October 2018.
  10. ^ Carol Ekarius (2007). Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Publishing. ISBN 9781580176675.
  11. ^ Magpie Duck. The Livestock Conservancy. Accessed October 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Pat Malone, Gerald Donnelly, Walt Leonard (2001). The American Standard of Perfection. Mendon, Massachusetts: American Poultry Association.