Tag Archives: Muscovy Duck

A loop around the pond, and precocious goslings

I watched these two cormorants swimming and diving for fish around the edges of the pond at Indian Riverside Park the other day.

I believe the darker one is an adult and the light brown one is a juvenile. They were staying close together, diving and surfacing at the same time – the young bird mirroring the older bird.

A Blue Jay was keeping an eye on me.

Great Blue Heron at the west side of the pond.

Muscovy Duck heading toward a woman calling for her. “Lily, Lily! I brought you something.”

People feed the birds and ducks here.

Florida Mottled Ducks are closely related to the more familiar mallard. The male has a yellow bill and the female’s is orangey and darker.

Egyptian geese keeping watch over three chicks.

So cute!

Egyptian Geese are native to the Nile River Valley and other parts of the Middle East. They are yet another non-native that is beginning to breed “in the wild” in South Florida.

Oh the tiny wings!

The feathers are all down at this age. So soft.

This one stopped to rest. But not for too long.

Soon it was time to forage again. They eat a variety of plants, seeds, tiny animals and insects. Believe it or not, popcorn and bread are not very good for them.

Egyptian goslings (like the chicks of domestic hens) are precocial, born with downy feathers and ready to start feeding themselves right away, as opposed to altricial birds born naked and helpless, staying in the nest for some time, needing to be fed.

Cormorants are altricial… and so are human babies!

Birds in motion and birds at rest at Indian Riverside Park

This Snowy Egret was dancing across the water at Indian Riverside Park in Jensen Beach.

Black legs contrast with the snowy’s bright yellow feet, which are nicknamed “golden slippers.”

Those feet seem to play a role in stirring up or herding small aquatic animals as the egret forages.

In contrast, this juvenile White Ibis was perfectly still and perfectly balanced on one leg along the shore.

This cormorant surfaced after searching for fish under water.

Muscovy Ducks were loafing near a place where people bring bread and even popcorn to feed the birds.

Also happy to chow down some popcorn, a pair of Egyptian Geese can often be seen around the edges of this popular pond.

The Egyptian Goose in Florida

Feral Florida: Duck, duck, goose

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A face only a mother Muscovy Duck could love?

The “warts” are called caruncles.

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A couple of Egyptian geese relax on the lawn.

After a trip to Home Depot in the Martin Square Shopping Center on US 1 in Stuart, I stopped by the pond on the northwest side to check out the duck situation.

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White Ibis too, coming over to see if I have any stale bread.

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The strange, warty-faced Muscovy Duck causes confusion for some bird watchers, as it’s very distinctive and quite commonly seen, yet does not appear in some field guides. Truly wild individuals are restricted to south Texas and points south, but domesticated versions occur in parks and farms across much of North America. Wild Muscovy Ducks are glossy black with bold white wing patches and are forest dwellers that nest in tree cavities. Their range expanded into Texas in the 1980s; feral populations also exist in Florida.

A feral population is well established here at the shopping center pond.

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Also feral…

Native to sub-Saharan Africa, the Egyptian Goose is an exotic species in North America. Their introduction and establishment is not well understood, but the species likely originated from escapees from captive waterfowl collections.

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Stretch!

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Mixed flock.

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Egyptian “geese” are big and goose-shaped, but they are believed to be more closely related to shelducks. (Link.) True to their name, they are abundant in the Nile River Valley. And in ancient Egyptian art.

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One of the oldest domesticated fowl species in the world, the Muscovy Duck was already being kept by native people in Peru and Paraguay when the early Spanish explorers arrived. The word “Muscovy” may refer to the Muscovy Company (incorporated in London in 1555), which transported these ducks to England and France.

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Aztec rulers wore cloaks made from the feathers of the Muscovy Duck, which was considered the totem animal of the Wind God, Ehecatl.

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Wild Muscovy Ducks are dark-plumaged, wary birds of forested areas. Domestic varieties—heavier, less agile birds with variable plumage—live on farms and in parks in warm climates around the world, where they can be confusing to bird watchers.

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From Birds and Blooms…

Domesticated Muscovy ducks were brought to Florida intentionally in the mid-twentieth century, thought to add aesthetic appeal to lakes and ponds. Since then, they have established massive feral populations, to the point where they are considered a nuisance in some areas. Though they are native to the tropics, they can withstand cold and even freezing temperatures, and multiple urban populations of these introduced ducks exist around the U.S. The origin of the name “Muscovy” is uncertain. “Muscovy” means “from Moscow,” but these ducks are neither native to that region nor found there other than in domestication. Some link the name to certain Native American tribes, while Carl Linneaus assigned it the species epithet moschata, meaning “musk” (due to their strong gamey odor), and this may be the most logical explanation.

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They did smell a bit fishy to me.

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They let me hang around pretty close to them and take pics.

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See you later, strange ducks.

Going wild

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Here is a red and green bird for Christmas: a male Muscovy duck. Out on errands yesterday, we saw a flock in a retention pond next to Home Depot on Route 1 in Stuart.

These ducks are completely new to me. A passerby informed us they were Muscovies. Apparently South Florida has many of them.

Feral Muscovy ducks can breed near urban and suburban lakes and on farms, nesting in tree cavities or on the ground, under shrubs in yards, on apartment balconies, or under roof overhangs. Some feral populations, such as that in Florida, have a reputation of becoming nuisance pests on occasion.

And…

In the US, Muscovy ducks are considered an invasive species. An owner may raise them for food production only (not for hunting). Similarly, if the ducks have no owner, 50CFR Part 21 allows the removal or destruction of the Muscovy ducks, their eggs and nests anywhere in the United States outside of Hidalgo, Starr, and Zapata counties in Texas where they are considered indigenous. The population in southern Florida is considered, with a population in the several thousands, to be established enough to be considered “countable” for bird watchers.

So these ducks exist somewhere “in between.”

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Female Muscovy ducks are smaller.

From Cornell Lab of Ornithology Muscovy Duck Fun Facts:

One of the oldest domesticated fowl species in the world, the Muscovy Duck was already being kept by native people in Peru and Paraguay when the early Spanish explorers arrived. The word “Muscovy” may refer to the Muscovy Company (incorporated in London in 1555), which transported these ducks to England and France.

Aztec rulers wore cloaks made from the feathers of the Muscovy Duck, which was considered the totem animal of the Wind God, Ehecatl.