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A Pekin duck is a member of the most common domesticated duck species. Although it has become popular as a household pet, the majority of Pekin ducks are used as food. It is believed that this species originated from China and was imported to the United States to Long Island in the 19th century. For this reason, a Pekin duck is commonly referred to as a Long Island duck. The Pekin duck is also used in a very popular dish in Chinese cuisine referred to as Peking duck.
When the ducks are born, their plumage has a bright yellow hue to it. When the duck matures, the plumage turns from a bright yellow to a white color. The shanks, bills and feet of the duck remain orange from birth to adulthood. A Pekin duck is a fairly tall bird and can weigh roughly 8-10 pounds (3.6-4.5 kg).
The Pekin duck is not that sexually dimorphic, and because of this, it is difficult to determine the gender of the birds during early development. In adult ducks, the males can be differentiated from the females by their curled tail feather known as a drake tail. This feather develops as the adult male grows. Another distinction between males and females is their quack. Adult males have a low and deep quack, and the female has a high-pitched quack.
Other common features that can help differentiate between males and females include their shank and other feather characteristics. Some of the female birds will have feathers missing at the back of their neck, a result of the mating process with the male duck. The shank coloring will differ slightly in both sexes. These physical characteristics are somewhat subjective and can be used in addition to other identifying methods to determine the sex of the duck.
Gender also can be determined manually by a process called venting. The venting method involves widening the rectum of the duck with the index finger and thumb and observing the genitalia to determine its gender. This process is quite difficult for the untrained, and it is recommended to wait until the ducks are older to undergo this process, because the risk of hurting the duck is common.
Pekin ducks tend to be very social and have become common as house pets for a variety of reasons. Their high intelligence and adaptability can come in handy for living either indoors or outdoors. An average duck can live for more than a decade, and it can develop a strong bond with its owner.