Oliver Drake and M. C. Gower-Williams of Wales are credited with developing this charming
duck. Because of this duck's size, somewhat upright carriage, and plumage pattern, it is conjectured that Magpies may have
been descended from the Runner duck and the Huttegem, an old Belgium duck with possible Runner breed ancestry raised during
the 1800's. Isaac Hunter of Michigan imported Magpies to the United States in 1963, and since then Magpies have been kept
alive by a handful of breeders in America. The American Poultry Association recognized Magpies in 1977. (Holderread, 45-46)
The Magpie is a light breed, reaching weights of between four and five pounds. (Malone
et. al., 316) "The name of this breed comes from its distinctive markings - plumage that is predominantly white, offset by
two colored areas: the back from shoulders to tail, and the crown of the head." (Holderread, 45) It is a long bodied bird,
with a broad head, and a long orange or yellow bill. (Batty, 128) This duck's body carriage is fifteen to thirty degrees above
horizontal when relaxed, and slightly higher when agitated. Varieties include åBlacks, Blues, which are Standard colors; Silvers,
which are a derivative of Blue; and Chocolates, which are extremely rare." (Holderread, 46))
Magpies are active foragers that will graze and hunt for a sizable portion of their feed
from grass, seeds, insects, and aquatic life. They eagerly search for and consume slugs, snails, and insects; so much so that
keepers of large livestock find that these ducks are effective at eliminating liver fluke infestations. Magpies are good layers
and will produce 220 to 290 eggs yearly. Their meat is of gourmet quality. Carcasses will pick cleanly because of their light
colored under-bellies, and each bird will yield portions suitable for two to three people. Magpies tend to have high strung
dispositions. While generally at home on land and not capable of sustained flight, they can propel themselves over a 2-3 foot
wall if startled. The drakes have high libido, therefore the ratio of drakes to ducks in a flock should no be more than 1:5
or so. (Holderread, 34))
When choosing breeders, select robust, active, strong-legged birds which come from families
known for high egg production. Laying ability and egg size are strongly influenced by the father and therefore it is prudent
to choose breeding drakes from high-producing families. Because the genetics of Magpie coloration is complex, breeding good
show specimens is a challenge. Color patterning of ducklings will not change as they develop to adults, so breeders can select
good specimens for breeding while using other ducklings as utility birds. (Holderread, 46))
ALBC's 2000 census of domestic waterfowl in North America found only 126 breeding Magpie.
While seven people reported breeding Magpie, only one primary breeding flock with 50 or more breeding birds existed. (Bender,
4) There is a critical need for more conservation breeders of Magpie ducks. Their excellent laying ability, gourmet quality
meat, and excellent foraging abilities make them a great addition to any small farmstead or backyard producer's flock.
The Ancona was developed in Great Britain during the early twentieth century and most
likely originated from Runner ducks and Huttegen ducks, an old Belgian duck. This is the same foundation stock as the Magpie
duck. "They have been raised in the United States for several decades and were exhibited in 1983 in Oregon. Although still
rare, their numbers have been increasing since 1984 when they first became available to the public." (Holderread 2001, 53)
The Ancona averages 6 to 6.5 pounds and is a bit stockier than its close relative, the
Magpie duck. It has a medium sized oval head, a medium-length bill that is slightly concave along the top line, an average
neck that arches forward slightly and body carriage is 20 to 30 degrees above horizontal. The broken, mottled plumage is unique
among ducks for, like Holstein cattle, there is no set design. "Any combination of white and color is acceptable as long as
there are obvious broken areas on the head, backs, sides, and underbody." The neck is normally solid white, bills are yellow
with dark green or black spotting, and the legs and feet are orange with black or brown markings that increase with age. (Holderread
2001, 53) Varieties include Black and White, Blue and White, Chocolate and White, Silver and White, Lavender and White, and
Tricolored. Chocolate is a sex-linked recessive trait. If a chocolate drake mates with a black duck, all female offspring
will be chocolate, while all male offspring will be black. A black drake mated to a chocolate duck produces all black offspring.
Only male offspring will carry the sex-linked recessive chocolate gene. (Holderread 1985, 4)
The Ancona is a hardy, adaptable, all-purpose duck. It is an excellent layer, typically
laying 210-280 white, cream, or blue eggs yearly. The Ancona also grows relatively quickly, and produces high quality meat
that is more flavorful and less fatty than that of most Pekin ducks. Anconas are well suited for situations where they can
forage for some of their food and are capable of eating large "banana" slugs. "They make excellent pond or yard ducks since
they tend to stay close to home, do not fly under normal conditions and are large enough so that they are less likely to be
preyed upon by winged predators. Typically they have moderately calm temperaments and make fine pets." (Holderread 2001, 52)
"As with all rare breeds, it is especially important to choose stock birds that are vigorous,
free of physical deformities and have classic breeds traits. Since it is an excellent layer, productivity should be given
a high priority in breeders. To produce the highest percentage of offspring with unique patterns, select birds with definite
colored areas under their eyes and at least a bit of color in their chests. Avoid specimens that are either solid white or
primarily colored with a white bib." (Holderread 2001, 53) While the Ancona is not yet recognized by the American Poultry
Association, one breeder suggests the ideal aesthetic is three quarters white plumage and one quarter colored.
ALBC's 2000 census of domestic waterfowl in North America found only 128 breeding Ancona.
While four people reported breeding Ancona, only one primary breeding flock with 50 or more breeding birds exists. (Bender,
4) There is a critical need for more conservation breeders of Ancona ducks. Their excellent laying ability, tasty meat, and
calm dispositions make them a great addition to any small farmstead or backyard producer's flock.
Breeding Black & White
When breeding Black & White
Mapgie Calls, you will not hatch out all magpie call
ducklings. When using a show marked male & female,
it is very common to hatch
solid white sports, black bibs, anconas, & magpie ducklings.
color pattern on a Black & White Magpie would be to have a solid
white duck with a black cap and a black mantle.