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British Call Duck Club

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Origins of the Call Duck

No one is really sure as to the origins of Call Ducks, but it is generally believed that they were first bred in Holland where they were known as the Dutch Decoy. One school of thought has it though that they came from the Orient before that. Around the time they were being developed in Holland they were also being bred in England, especially in Norfolk, where it became fashionable to name them 'Calls' - hence today's name.

The original Calls on both sides of the North Sea would have been mallard in colour as they were initially used to entice or decoy other wild duck species into the range of huntsmen's weapons. A Decoy or Call female will freely utter loud steady calls when separated from it's mate or when released from confinement in a box.

Wildfowlers would have utilised this trait to lure unsuspecting wild mallard or such like, close to their hunter's hide or boat or to get a passing flock to circle overhead when some could be shot. In all probability, a length of string would have been tied to the Call's leg to prevent it swimming away whilst a quick yank on it would have been useful in getting the Call to quack on cue!

Dixon and Kerr in their book 'Ornamental and Domestic Poultry', first published in 1851, state that a much smaller race of White ducks than an Aylesbury had been imported from Holland. According to them the chief merit of these little ducks, namely their 'incessant loquacity' was indicated in their title 'Call Ducks'. The book goes on to say that although mallard coloured calls aroused no suspicion in the wild ducks these conspicuous white calls did not frighten their wild cousins either, but to the contrary, they aroused fatal attraction born out of curiosity.
The Mallard colour was also known as Brown or Grey in history and that is why they are still classified in some Show Schedules under Grey Male and Female rather than under Mallard. Today's range of colourful calls seen at shows have resulted from selective choices being made by subsequent breeders, following the initial crossing together of the original Mallard and White colours all those years ago. Since the whites were probably sports of the mallard colour in the first, then do we come a full circle and the very first Call or Decoy was when someone came across a noisy but humble mallard, bred from it to perpetuate this desirable attribute and, through line breeding, a diminishing size became the added bonus!








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