I 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.