What purpose does "это" serve here? The correction translation is "A duck is a bird." Couldn't this simply be translated from "уткa птица"? My proposed translation of "This duck is a bird" was incorrect.
"A duck, it's a bird," Утка это птица, as opposed to, "A duck is a bird," Утка - птица. The am/is/are [есть] are omitted in Russian and frequently replaced with a dash (--) in written Russian.
Please see my answer here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/11559427
It's almost impossible for a beginner to give the right answer here. That "это" is there just to confuse us.
It's a little confusing, but it is correct Russian. It's like talking about birds, you say, "A duck, THAT'S a bird"
This is hard for us that dont speak english as first language. I got this wrong twice because i put "duck is a bird " instead of "A duck..."
That's right, it is a bit hard for English-learners. But the rule is very straightforward. For the most part, a singular noun is never alone in English. If it doesn't have a noun determiner "this, that, one, any, some, no," then it needs an article "a, an, the." If you follow this rule, you can't go wrong, except for uncountable nouns like water, sand, mud, gold, food, wood,, etc. They can be alone, without noun determiner or article.
English requires an article "a duck is a bird" or "the duck is a bird". Also for this sentence "ducks are birds" which lacks the indefinite article "a" because ducks is plural.
The pronunciation of the это here sounds like эта. Should that be more accurate or is that just fine?
This is the correct pronunciation. О and а are only distinguished when they are stressed. In «э́то», «э» is stressed (and not «о»). If you pronounce «о» in a 'more accurate' way, this would come off as something dialectal.
Pronouncing unstressed «о» as «о» is called «о́канье».
Such pronunciation is imitated in Alla Pugacheva's song «Посидим, поокаем» '[Let's] sit down and talk, pronouncing unstressed «о» as «о»'. The song is about a girl who invites a guy to a date and dreams about seeing him, but he never comes. In this song, the suggestion to pronounce «о» as «о» probably indicates they could have an informal conversation, not trying to speak in a 'standard', 'correct way'.
A bench with the name of this song was istalled was installed in Vologda, where a dialect with «о́канье» is traditionally spoken:
However, standard Russian is based on the Moscow and Saint Petersburg pronunciation, where unstressed «о» is pronounced as «а» (a reduced «а», actually; but the reduction is optional). Pronouncing unstressed «о» as «а» is called «а́канье», and this is the standard pronunciation.
When the female voice reads it I can hear птица, but when the male voice reads it, it becomes a pizza for me
The sentence is perfectly correct with an article. Without an article, "duck" refers to food. A duck is a bird, though.
I put "the duck, it is a bird" but I can't figure out why this is incorrect?
You're translating too literally. That's an awkward sentence in English. The Russian sentence just means "A duck is a bird."