You’ve never heard of a Muscovy Duck? Neither did I, until three of them appeared on the pond one day in May 2007. They are domestic waterfowl, raised for their meat, which is said to be less fatty and more flavorful than other duck meat. This one may have escaped from a farm. On the table, they are often referred to as “Barbary Duck.”

From its large size, I judge this to be a drake (a male), as the hens (females) are much smaller, about half the size. These domestic ducks sport a variety of plumage patterns and colors, including blue, green, lavender, pied and all-white. Both sexes have red or pink nude faces, and fleshy wattles at the base of the bill. The male also bears a small knob at the top of the bill base. (Click the photo to see these details more clearly.)

Wild Muscovy Ducks are native to Mexico, and Central and South America, and have been bred since pre-Columbian times by Native Americans. Large feral populations have taken root in the southern parts of Texas and Florida, where they are often considered a nuisance. Small feral populations have also been reported as far north as southern Canada.

There is a long-standing dispute as to the origin of the name: some experts believe that it derives from one or another place name; others claim it refers to the strong musk odor the duck exudes.

The all-white Muscovy Ducks that appeared in 2007 were tame, allowing me to approach them closely. Sadly, predictably, they did not survive the winter. The survival skills of this individual? The jury is out.

I took this photo on May 25, 2013, an overcast day, when this rare visitor came close to shore. Two days later I saw him again, for the last time.

Click the image to view it full screen, and click the back arrow to return. Cursor over for its description.
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4 Responses to Muscovy Duck*

  1. Pat F. says:

    Well,after reading that Muscovy ducks liked fruits and vegetables l chopped up some carrots, apples and summer squash for them. They were all circled around in their usual fashion but upon catching the “healthy” snacks they promptly spat them out. So much for that.

  2. Pat F. says:

    For the second time this year in SC we have Delilah, a Muscovy duck hatching her second family. She hatched 17 ducklings the first time but only four of them lasted. I imagine they were caught by loose cats in neighborhood and the hawks. There are several ponds in the subdivision but ducks seem to be landlubbers mostly. I expect Delilah will be hatching her new babies on 8/28. I keep a large container of water out for her as she seems rather thirsty. I had been occasionally feeding her bread but learned they like veggies too. Am getting very attached to her. She does leave nest to forage. There’s a group of males in front yard who enjoy resting in the shade and drinking water and taking a bath with great gusto. We have taught them to take their turn when we toss food to them which they catch in their beaks. They wait their turn believe it or not. A great source of entertainment and we enjoy them. We bought a kiddie pool for their pleasure.

  3. Dick Quinn says:

    VERY NICE, Ron. Great resolution and color. I love the reflection!

  4. Doug Baja says:

    Feral domestic female adult. Whitehead and barred mutations (barred almost disappears in adult…you can still see some barring on sides). Muscovy ducks do quite well in cold climates if given protection from wind. They do poorly unless near people as predators snap them up with gusto.

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