Male vs. Female Cayuga Ducks: What’s the Difference?

Male and female Cayuga ducks

If you’re thinking of adopting a pair of Cayuga ducks, it can be hard to tell the males from females. In fact, they are often mistaken for each other because they look very similar, only differing when observed up close.

Primarily, you will notice that female Cayuga ducks are smaller with white-speckled plumage. On the flip side, males are taller and heavier. In terms of behavior, Cayuga drakes show more aggression and territorial instincts. In contrast, hens are generally calmer and more laid-back.

This article provides a straightforward comparison between male and female Cayuga ducks. We will look at their overall physical appearances, behaviors, reproductive duties, and many more. Let’s get started!

Summary of Male vs. Female Cayuga Ducks

Male Cayuga DucksFemale Cayuga Ducks
Male Cayuga Duck 1
Female Cayuga Duck
Black with a green sheen
Black with a green sheen (will eventually develop white specks as they age)
Taller and heavier;
7–8 lbs (3.2–3.6 kg)
Slightly smaller;
5–6 lbs (2.3–2.7 kg)
Calm and friendly most of the time but can also be aggressive and territorial
Calmer, friendlier, and incredibly broody
Produce softer and raspier quacks
Produce louder and clearer quacks
Nest protectors; will exhibit typical mating behaviors
Nest builders; will make great mothers

Appearance Differences

In the world of Cayuga ducks, the differences in appearance between males and females are both subtle and distinct.

For one thing, female Cayuga ducks boast black plumage with a green sheen. As they age, this plumage often develops white specks, sometimes turning completely white by six years of age.

Further, their tail feathers appear straight, and in terms of size, females are slightly smaller, standing a bit shorter than their male counterparts.

When it comes to weight, Cayuga hens typically weigh between 5 and 6 pounds, lighter than males.

Refer to the pictures below comparing the female Cayuga duck to the male.:

Female Cayuga duck with ducklings on a field
Female Cayuga duck
Male Cayuga duck
Male Cayuga duck

On the other hand, male Cayuga ducks maintain a consistent black plumage with a green sheen throughout their lives without developing any white feathers.

Yet, these drakes’ unique characteristic is their tail feathers, which begin to curl at around six months of age. These curled feathers are often referred to as “sex feathers,” which indicates their gender.

In terms of physical stature, male Cayuga ducks are taller and more robust. They typically weigh between 7 and 8 pounds, which makes them heavier than the females.

Fun Fact: A fascinating aspect of Cayuga ducks is their adaptive behavior in the absence of males. If there are no drakes in the vicinity, a female Cayuga duck may sprout curled tail feathers, mimicking the build of a male.

Behavioral Differences

With regard to behavior, male and female Cayuga ducks exhibit distinguishable characteristics, too.

For instance, female Cayuga ducks are known for their calm and friendly demeanor. They are also notably broody, often showing a strong inclination to sit on and hatch eggs.

Male Cayuga ducks, while generally calm and friendly as well, can exhibit aggressive and territorial behavior. This is particularly evident around the age of four months when they start displaying mating behaviors.

After this period, males also often appear more confident and assertive in their actions.

I’ve been raising Cayuga ducks in my backyard for years. To be specific, my female ducks waddle around my yard, often sitting in one spot for hours to lay their eggs. They rarely get feisty, even if I get close to their nests.

Meanwhile, the male ducks used to walk calmly with the females. But after a few months, they started fighting with each other to show off for mates.

Basically, I noticed that they are aggressive throughout the breeding season, but their behavior mellows in winter.

Sound Differences

Cayuga duck floating on water

In terms of vocalizations, male and female Cayuga ducks have noticeably different sounds. Female Cayuga ducks are regarded for their louder and clearer quacks, which can be easily distinguished even from a distance. 

On the other hand, male Cayuga ducks produce quacks that are softer and raspier.

This difference in sound is a simple yet effective way to identify the gender of Cayuga ducks, especially useful for duck breeders and enthusiasts in recognizing and understanding their flock.

Here is a video that will help you distinguish male and female Cayuga ducks by their quacks:

How to tell duck gender by their sounds

Fun Fact: Ducks from different areas have distinct accents. Researchers found that ducklings raised in the city quack louder and more harshly than those raised in the countryside.

Differences in Roles

In the dynamic family structure of Cayuga ducks, males and females play distinct roles, especially during the breeding season.

Primarily, female Cayuga ducks are adept nest builders. They take great care in constructing comfortable and secure nests for their eggs, which demonstrates their strong maternal instincts.

These females are also known to make excellent mothers, attentively nurturing their ducklings.

Male Cayuga ducks, in contrast, assume the role of nest protectors. They exhibit typical mating behaviors and are vigilant in guarding their territory and the nest.

Simply put, their presence is crucial for the safety and security of the nesting site and the well-being of the female and future ducklings.

Fun Fact: Cayuga ducks are known for their monogamous behavior within a breeding season, but this fidelity is typically limited to that season alone. They basically choose different partners after each cycle.

Tips for Telling Male and Female Cayuga Ducks Apart

Cayuga duck resting

Identifying male and female Cayuga ducks can be simplified by observing a few key characteristics. First, examine their size and weight. Drakes are typically taller and heavier than hens.

Next, observe the plumage. Male Cayuga ducks are entirely black with a green sheen and develop a curl in their tail feathers at about six months of age. Females, however, may develop white specks in their plumage.

Listen to their quacks for further distinction. Males produce softer, raspier quacks, whereas hens are known for louder, clearer quacks.

Finally, note their behavior. Cayuga drakes can be more aggressive and territorial. On the flip side, females are generally calmer and friendlier.

If you have ever observed Cayuga ducks, we’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below! Also, feel free to ask any questions you have regarding these fascinating waterbirds.

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