The Magpie is a British breed of domestic duck.[7][8][9] It has distinctive black and white markings reminiscent of the European magpie, and is a good layer of large eggs.[10]: 46 

A drake
Conservation status
Country of originUnited Kingdom
  • Male:
    2.5–3.2 kg
  • Female:
    2.0–2.7 kg
APAlight duck[4]
  • Duck
  • Anas platyrhynchos
A typical duck
Head of a drake, showing undesirable black spotting

History Edit

The Magpie was bred after the end of the First World War by M.C. Gower-Williams in Wales and Oliver Drake in Yorkshire.[11][7] 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 described in 1921;[9] a breeders' club was formed in 1926,[9] and a breed standard published in a supplement to the Poultry Club Standards in that year.[12]: 461  At that time, two colour varieties were recognised by the club, the black-and-white and the 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 were recognised;[9] the chocolate-and-white variant, developed by breeders in Germany, was later added.[8]: 430 [11]

The Altrheiner Elsterenten, a duck with the same plumage pattern as the Magpie, was bred in Germany in the 1970s by Paul-Erwin Oswald.[6] The Entente Européenne treats it as the same breed.[5]

The Magpie was exported to the United States in 1963,[13]: 193 [14] but was not widely kept. It was admitted to the American Standard of Perfection in 1977.[10]: 58 

The conservation status of the Magpie is not clear: it was listed as 'critical' by the FAO in 2007,[1]: 124  and as 'unknown' in the DAD-IS database in 2022.[3] It was not among the breeds listed as 'priority' on the 2021–2-22 watchlist of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.[2] The most recent population data reported to DAD-IS dates from 2002, when the total number of birds was estimated to be between 60 and 100.[3]

Characteristics Edit

The Magpie was originally bred to have black-and-white markings reminiscent of those of the magpie, Pica pica:[9] White, with black on the top of the head, a black back and tail, and black scapulars which form a heart-shaped black area on the back when the wings are folded.[8]: 430  With age the black may become flecked with white or wholly white.[10] Three other colour varieties with the same pattern are recognised by the Poultry Club of Great Britain: blue-and-white, dun-and-white and chocolate-and-white.[12]: 463 

The birds are of medium size; drakes weigh some 2.5–3.2 kg (5.5–7 lb), ducks 2.0–2.7 kg (4.5–6 lb). The body is carried at an angle of about 35° to the horizontal when the bird is in motion.[12]: 463  The neck is long and curved, the breast full, and the back broad. The bill is broad and long; it is yellow when the bird is young, turning with age to grey-green in ducks and green-spotted yellow in drakes.[8]: 430  The legs and feet are orange, sometimes with dark mottling.[8]: 430 

The American Poultry Association recognises only the blue and black colour varieties, and recommends a slightly lower body weight.[4][10][15]

Use Edit

The Magpie is commonly reared for showing. It was originally bred as a commercial or utility bird, to provide meat and eggs.[9] As the breast is white, the carcase plucks cleanly.[10] Ducks lay approximately 80 eggs per year; they vary in colour from white to pale green, and weigh about 65 g.[16]: 20  The 'Paramount' strain reared by Oliver Drake in the early twentieth century reportedly laid 185 eggs per year, and reached slaughter weight in about 11 weeks.[11]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b Barbara Rischkowsky, Dafydd Pilling (editors) (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: Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Archived 23 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b Watchlist 2021–22. Kenilworth, Warwickshire: Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived 22 November 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Breed data sheet: Magpie / United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Duck (domestic)). Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed July 2022.
  4. ^ a b APA Recognized Breeds and Varieties: As of January 1, 2012. American Poultry Association. Archived 4 November 2017.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b Breed Classification. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Archived 30 June 2017.
  7. ^ a b Breed Gallery: Ducks. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Accessed October 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e 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.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Chris Ashton, Mike Ashton (2001). The Domestic Duck. Ramsbury, Marlborough: The Crowood Press. ISBN 9781847979704.
  10. ^ a b c d e Dave Holderread (2011). Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, second edition. North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Publishing. ISBN 9781603427456.
  11. ^ a b c Magpie. Kenilworth, Warwickshire: Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Accessed October 2018.
  12. ^ a b c J. Ian H. Allonby, Philippe B. Wilson (editors) (2018). 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, seventh edition. Chichester; Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Blackwell. ISBN 9781119509141.
  13. ^ Carol Ekarius (2007). Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Publishing. ISBN 9781580176675.
  14. ^ Magpie Duck. The Livestock Conservancy. Accessed October 2018.
  15. ^ Pat Malone, Gerald Donnelly, Walt Leonard (2001). The American Standard of Perfection. Mendon, Massachusetts: American Poultry Association.
  16. ^ Rassetafeln: Groß- und Wassergeflügel (in German). Reichenbach, Haselbachtal: Bund Deutscher Rassegeflügelzüchter. Archived 16 July 2021.