Tag Archives: Muscovy Duck

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.