Uses: Exhibition, originally as decoy ducks for traps.
Eggs: 50 to 150 White Eggs.
Origin: Unknown - most probably Asia before arriving in Holland.
Weight: Drake: 600 - 700g, Duck: 500 - 600g.
Useful to Know: Call ducks, despite their size are the noisiest ducks and if you have neighbours, this should be a consideration. Calls require low sided trays and bowls for drinking and bathing.
Photo: A white female Call Duck.
The Call duck or 'Decoy' as it was known then was one of just four ducks in the British Standard in 1865. It was standardised in Mallard and White varieities. Mrs F. Blair wrote in "The Henwife" in 1861 that "there is not a great variety in our domestic ducks; only three distinct exhibition breeds exist, viz. the Aylesbury, Rouen, and Buenos Ayres or East Indian" and Lewis Wright quoted this in his Book of Poultry in 1873 and said that her list "would be twice as long now" and the breeds he subsequently described didn't include Call ducks so it is surprising that they made it into the Standard in 1865!
After the 1865 standard, Call ducks were left out of subsequent editions and only had a mention as ornamental ducks in 1954. It was 1971 before the Mallard (or Brown as it was called) and White varieties of Call entered the standard again and 1982 before the Blue Mallard (or Blue Fawn), Mallard Pied and Silver were added. A few more varieties were added in 1997, the Apricot Mallard, Bibbed, and Magpie. The current 2008 edition of the British Waterfowl Standards has no less than 17 colour varieties.
The exact origins of the Call are unclear but it is thought they would have been imported into Holland from Asia. The Dutch bred Decoy ducks to be used in large wildfowl cage traps and they were intentionally bred to be vocal to attract the wild ducks into the trap. What worked in Holland also worked in Britain and Call ducks (or Decoys as they were called) were also used here for the same purpose.
Call ducks are easy to keep although rather talkative and due to this, might not be suitable for every back garden that has close neighbours. They can be mixed with other ducks with care although they need shallow containers to be able to reach water so half size buckets that are suitable for other domestic ducks are too big for Calls. Under-bed storage containers make a good pool for them to swim in with a couple of bricks on the sides to climb in and out. These can be moved around to save wear and tear on the grass. Calls are a favourite amongst children due to their size, ability to tame and ease with which they can be handled. Call ducks, like other ducks will need to be kept secure from predators. They can also fly very well and there has been many an owner who has let their new Calls out on returning home to see them take off. Clipping the primary feathers of one wing or netting their run should stop this and once they have settled in and are happy, there is usually no need for further clipping.
The Call Duck Association website provides the full Call Duck Standard here together with information about most of these colour varieties. The British Waterfowl Standards referenced and available via the link below contains information and colour photos of some of the newer colour varieties and for its very reasonable price, it is worth buying a copy.
The following colour varieties of Call are standardised:
Mallard, Blue Mallard, Apricot Mallard, Silver, Blue Silver, Apricot Silver, Mallard Dusky, Khaki, Blue Dusky, Black, Chocolate, Bibbed, Magpie, Mallard Pied, White and Yellow Belly.
The following books are available. Links take you to the Amazon or other sellers' pages for the books.