FN’s Animal Planet: The Muscovy Duck

muscovy-duckI I previously referred to nutria as the kudzu of the animal world, but they have competition in the form of the Muscovy duck. 

I first encountered this grand creature in south Florida.  That’s the thing about living in Florida.  All sorts of things migrate here who have no business living here.  No, I am not talking about human immigrants.  I’m referring to things like poisonous toads, which we will address in a future issue of Fakename’s Animal Planet. 

So imagine my surprise when I moved to North Florida and found a population of them living on “Lake Ella”.  Lake Ella is a bit of a joke itself.  It started out its life as a stormwater pond.  Then they put a fountain in the middle of it, and a path all the way around it, so now it is a “Lake”.  I’m thinking, if I dye my hair and get some Botox treatments, can I call myself Angelina Jolie? 

So it turns out these ducks are a big threat, because they end up displacing the native water birds.  And no surprise there.  They are huge.  The males weigh around 15 pounds, which is larger than some dogs I know.  So they eat everything in sight.  For a duck, they are also relatively aggressive.  Just what we need.  We already have poisonous toads, now we get aggressive ducks?

Having once been attacked by a turkey (I’m not kidding), and a rooster(not kidding about that either), I avoid all large birds unless they are sitting in trees.  If they are walking around on the ground, I am taking a detour through Cleveland.  Unless they are swans.  Swans seem to be sweet.

It so happens that I drive by Lake Ella virtually every morning, safely encased in steel and glass, but where you and your fellow drivers are bound to have an encounter with a Muscovy, resulting in much screeching of brakes and shaking of fists, and  the use of language your mother would advise against.  They are either waddling across the street, or flying across the street, in close proximity to your windshield. 

Since Lake Ella is located in a city park, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department routinely gathers them up and transports them elsewhere.  At least that’s the story they’re sticking to.  It could be that they are ending up on someone’s dinner table, but if so, P&R is right to keep that a secret. 

Tallahassee is a funny place.  We have our share of political differences, but we don’t like for you to kill animals.  Not too long ago, the Fish and Wildlife Commission killed a black bear who was peacefully sitting in a tree downtown, after having raided the trash of a Whataburger.  Everybody was mad. 

In researching the Muscovy, I discovered another secret to their success, besides the fact that they are huge and outeat all their neighbors.  It’s that they can mate on land, whereas all other ducks mate only in the water. Who knew?

So you can do your part to save the planet by interrupting this activity wherever you see it.  Assuming you can do so without losing any body parts. Warning:  The following image may be disturbing.  Duck pornography. 

Muscovy mating

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17 responses to “FN’s Animal Planet: The Muscovy Duck

  1. > It could be that they are ending up on someone’s > dinner table

    I love duck (gastronomically speaking) and I have yet to receive my fair share, as a City taxpayer, of Muscovy!

    Hmm… that photo gives graphic menaing to the phrase… “F*ck a duck!”

  2. Just how does one go about getting attacked by a turkey and a rooster?

  3. Rofl @ “f*ck a duck”. The rooster attack occurred when I was a small child, pre-school age. I was standing in a field, watching my grandfather plow, and otherwise minding my own business, when the rooster flew off the fence and dug its talons into my back. No one knows why. The turkey–I used to date a guy back in Memphis who lived out in the country and had a couple of pet turkeys, one of which he referred to as the “Guard Turkey”. One day it tried to peck me to death as I arrived at the front door. Apparently they are very territorial.
    A couple more factoids I forgot to mention about the Muscovy. If they are dead and on your dinner table, they are referred to as “Barbary duck”. Also, they don’t quack!

  4. I have to defend Lake Ella, it is precious to many. I have enjoyed its heritage for 50 years………lived 2 blocks from it for 3 formative family years in the 60’s…….Albertsons is there now………1922 Hollywood Drive. My family attended 4th of July celebrations there for several years. So it has personal memories for me but more so for many others I am sure.

    Lake Ella actually occupies a rather historic part in Tallahassee’s history having been an assembly point for freed slaves in the early years after the Civil War. It became part of the National Highway linkage via the Tallahassee Motor court in the 1920’s. Historic references reveal it to have been a clear lake and spring fed. Somewhere deep in the archives of Strozier Library is a pretty good history.

    • > lived 2 blocks from it for 3 formative family
      > years in the 60’s…….Albertsons is there now

      Not anymore PT..all Albertson’s in Tally gone.
      I shopped at that Albertson’s for over 10 years.
      I hear the one near Lake Ella will become a Publix Greenwise.

      I live in that area myself. Off Meridian, two blocks north of John Knox.

  5. Now that is fascinating. I’m inspired to do more research. I don’t really mean to disparage Lake Ella, it is truly a lovely place, and it brings a smile to your face to see all the people walking around it. It’s very much the heart of downtown Tallahassee. Oddly enough, I’ve never been there to walk it myself. Which is kind of like me living in Memphis for 25 years and never going to Graceland.
    But I hopefully will correct that in the near future. My best friend in Tallahassee, who has metastatic breast cancer (to bone) is going in next week to have her right hip replaced, after having the left one replaced last year. When she’s out of rehab, she said her dream is to be able to walk around Lake Ella again. I don’t know if that will ever be possible, but I will go there with her even if I have to push her around it in a wheelchair.

  6. Also the “lake” sucked as a stormwater pond. During Tropical Storm Fay, it flooded most of the businesses around it.

  7. And also, speaking of slaves…there is an art exhibit coming next month to the Mary Brogan museum, which will be here through March. It’s the collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, and it is the largest collection of African-American art and artifacts in the world. Valued at $22 million. When it leaves Tallahassee, it’s going directly to the Smithsonian. The only reason it’s coming to Tallahassee is that the Kinseys attended FAMU in the 60’s, which is where they met. I met with the Museum Director last week, and she told me that the Chaires Plantation was one of the most significant slave-holding plantations in the entire South–36,000 acres. She said today there are many white people still living in that area named Chaires, and the black people are named Footman. Because when they were freed, that was what their job was called, so they adopted it as a name.
    Of all the vile and criminal acts spawned by slavery (read Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”), that is actually, somehow the most poignant to me. That you couldn’t even have a last name.

  8. Also the “lake” sucked as a stormwater pond. During Tropical Storm Fay, it flooded most of the businesses around it.

    Yes I walked around it then, it should never have been designated a storm water pond …….

    http://www.tallahasseemagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=282&Itemid=87

  9. You might want to rethink that swan song. They’re extremely territorial, to the point that even the Canada geese don’t share a pond with them. I watched a pair serenely sail toward a gaggle of invading geese in an office park in Richmond, a few years back. No shots were fired – the geese waddled up out of that pond and moved into the one next door. During all my other trips to Richmond that year, I never saw a goose near the swan’s chosen spot.

    Could I put in a vote for the Canada goose as the animal equivalent of kudzu?

  10. Wow…thanks pt. That was a fascinating article. And Fakesister, you certainly can put in that vote. Canada geese are like the pigeons of the non-urban world. On Art’s island (now his son Mark’s island), they shoot them.
    Swans can be aggressive to geese all they want as far as I’m concerned. But I have never been attacked by a swan 🙂

  11. OH……..and good luck with/for your friend. I hope she get’s her wish and is able to once again walk around Lake Ella.

  12. masteroftheuniverse

    Muscovy’s don’t taste the same as the duck you’d get at a good restaurant, no matter what you do. They don’t have enough fat in the breast meat and tend to dry out. I would like to try BBQ manatee sometime, right after I sample some braised Florida Panther:)

    Jeff

  13. As I re-read these comments, I’m amazed at how far afield they can go lol. Just to qualify, I like goose better than duck…but that’s just me.
    Good luck with that braised Florida panther lol. In the Everglades they have Panther Crossing Signs, and you’re like, When? When do they cross?

  14. you have a point, muscovy/barbary ducks can be aggressive but i have 2 Reggie= female and Gemima = male (no i did not make a mistake on the names those are their real names) the male hates shoes and hisses a lot and doesn’t like stangers (he was rejected by his familly) but he’s a great guard duck and like a baby when you give him food (he doesn’t like to swim or get water on him STANGE DUCK) and the female is so cute (i raised her from a duckling, she was an orphan) and really tame. IF YOU TREAT THEM WITH RESPECT AND GIVE THEM FOOD THEY WILL LOVE YOU (or at least they should) and for all who want to eat them you are all ********!

  15. That is totally sweet that you have 2 Muscovys as pets! However, I suspect their love for you has more to do with the food part; not sure how much they actually care about your respect 🙂 Respecting them is a good idea though; if you don’t they will kick your teeth in.

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