Cayuga Ducks: The Beautiful Black Duck Breed

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Last updated on May 10th, 2024 at 07:37 pm

We have two Cayuga Ducks ourselves, Simon and Ronja. In this blog post, we wanted to introduce you to this beautiful black duck breed. Ronja, however, is not a pure breed; she is a mix between Cayuga and Mallard. This is why not all of the characteristics below are true for her.

Cayuga Ducks
Simon and Ronja – our Cayuga Ducks

History of Cayuga Ducks

The Cayuga duck is a medium-sized, black breed of domestic duck originating in the United States. It is named after the Cayuga people, a Native American tribe that lived in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

The exact origins of the Cayuga duck are unknown, but there are two main theories. Some believe the Cayuga duck was developed from a cross between the Black East Indies duck and the Rouen duck. Others believe the breed originated from a wild black duck found in Cayuga County, New York.

The first recorded mention of the Cayuga duck was in 1840, when John S. Clark obtained some ducks of this type in Orange County, New York, and took them to Cayuga County. The breed quickly became popular in the area, and by the 1850s, it was being exported to other parts of the United States. The Cayuga was first exhibited at the New York State Fair in 1842 and officially recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874.

The Cayuga duck quickly became popular in the United States, and by the 1870s, it was the most common duck breed in the country. It was prized for its dark plumage, which was resistant to fading, and its good laying ability. In the second half of the 19th century, the Cayuga duck became the principal duck breed reared for meat in the United States. However, in the late 19th century, the American Pekin duck began to displace the Cayuga duck in popularity. This was because the Pekin duck was larger and had white plumage, which made it more desirable for commercial growers.

Despite the decline in its popularity, the Cayuga duck has remained a popular breed among hobbyists and backyard poultry keepers.

Today, the American Poultry Association and the British Poultry Standards still recognize the Cayuga duck. The Livestock Conservancy lists the breed as ” Watch, ” meaning that it is a heritage breed at risk of extinction.

Characteristics of Cayuga Ducks

Cayuga ducks are medium-sized, with males typically weighing between 5 and 6 pounds and females weighing between 4 and 5 pounds. They have a distinctive black plumage with a green/blue/purple sheen most noticeable in the sunlight. The green sheen on Cayuga duck feathers is caused by a pigment called biliverdin, also found in human blood. Because of their distinctive color, Cayuga ducks are sometimes called “beetle-green” ducks.

While the plumage of the Cayuga is initially uniformly greenish-black, it may become mottled with white as it ages. This is especially true for females.

They are an upright breed with brown eyes, black legs, and feet that may be tinged in orange in drakes as they mature. Their bill is black but may change to olive. Very beautifully demonstrated by our drake Simon in the picture below.

Cayuga duck
Simon, our Cayuga Drake

Cayuga ducks are a hardy breed and well-suited for cold climates.

They are also good layers and can produce an average of 100-150 eggs annually. Cayuga eggs are initially black, but as the season progresses, egg color lightens to white.

In addition to their beauty and egg production, Cayuga ducks are known for their gentle nature. They are not as active as some other duck breeds, but they are very friendly and make good pets. Cayuga ducks are also relatively easy to care for, making them a good choice for first-time duck owners. They are also relatively quiet ducks, making them a good choice for people who live in urban or suburban areas. Cayuga ducks are also intelligent and easy to train.

Cayuga duck

Here are some additional facts about Cayuga ducks

  • They are good swimmers and foragers.
  • They are not as noisy as some other duck breeds.
  • They are considered a threatened breed by the Livestock Conservancy.
  • Cayuga ducks are a relatively rare breed, so you may have to do some searching to find a reputable breeder.


Overall, Cayuga ducks are a beautiful, docile, and easy-to-care-for breed of duck that is sure to add a touch of elegance to your backyard flock. If you are looking for a duck that is both beautiful and low-maintenance, then the Cayuga is an excellent option.

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Melanie (Duck Mom)
Melanie (Duck Mom)

Introducing Melanie, the passionate soul behind Ducks of Providence, your ultimate duck haven. With her flock of feathered friends by her side - Emma, Hertha, Schnatterinchen, Penny, Simon, Ronja, and Krümel - she leads readers on a quacking adventure like no other. Dive into the wonders of duck keeping with Melanie as your guide, from practical tips to heartwarming tales. Whether you're a seasoned pro or dipping your toes into the duck pond for the first time, Melanie is here to make your journey as delightful as a sunny day at the pond. Let's quack together and celebrate the joy of duck keeping!

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