March of the Muscovites

White Rock Lake boasts a thriving colony of Muscovy ducks (Cairina moschata).  It also sports a diverse group of Muscovy hybrids (and mallard hybrids), but I’ll focus more on some of those in a later post.

Having grown up with Muscovy ducks, the species generally occupies a special place in my heart.  Without fail, each time I see one I am flooded with fond memories of my childhood friends, of watching them grow up, of seeing how readily they became members of our family.  They trusted us implicitly; we loved them without reservation.

So a thriving, feral Muscovy colony where I live provides more than just another animal species to see in its natural habitat; it also grants magical trips down Memory Lane.

A large Muscovy drake (male duck) appears to be the master of this domain.  He far outsizes the other drakes, and certainly he dwarfs the females, not to mention a great many of the other bird species with which he lives.

I posted one photo of him at xenogere unseen, but here’s another as I caught him taking a bit of a stretch.

A large male Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) standing on shore and stretching his wings

Not only impressive in size, he probably is considered quite a dashing drake, what with the spectacular salt-and-pepper coiffure, the pronounced caruncle, the beguiling brown eyes, and the multicolored beak.

A close-up of a male Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) showing the facial balding and pronounced caruncle

He came ashore and approached to within a few yards (a few meters) of me.  Unafraid and undaunted by the lumbering ape snapping photo after photo, he stood and watched me carefully as a much smaller female[1] scoured the shoreline for breakfast along with the American coots (Fulica americana).

A female Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) rummaging for food with some American coots (Fulica americana)

The male intently remained between us, always standing guard and never turning away from me as she grabbed a bite to eat.

Several days later, I came across more of the colony loitering about the north end of the lake.

Four Muscovy ducks (Cairina moschata) preening on a pier early in early morning light

I particularly liked the brown one.  While I’ve seen Muscovies ranging from iridescent green and black to mostly white with dark markings, a brown variation surprised and intrigued me.  Regrettably, I never got a better image aside from this one as it was quite early and the dim morning light and strong winds made photography a wee bit difficult.

A brown Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) walking along the shore

Finally, simply because I find him such an impressive beast, allow me to give you a shot demonstrating a bit of scale for the large drake seen earlier.  Here he is amongst some American coots.  For those who don’t know how large an American coot is, adults are approximately 16 inches (40 centimeters) long.  For a simple comparison, they are generally larger than an American football (in length and circumference).

A large male Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) towering over some American coots (Fulica americana)

Quite large, eh?  You should meet him in person. . .

— — — — — — — — — —

[1] There are those who undoubtedly will argue with me regarding the sex of the identified female in the third photo.  Those who do will also undoubtedly fail to have the personal experience with this species that I have.  Our ducks (see the first link in this post) both laid eggs, so they were obviously females.  They were both Muscovy ducks.  Finally, they both demonstrated the same limited facial balding and less pronounced caruncle that you see in the specified image in this post.  Given the evidence, including the duck’s size, in addition to many years of personal interaction with this species, I feel confident that picture shows a female.  If it is a male, the Muscovies I grew up with had to have been derelicts from some bizarre genetic experiment.

Leave a Reply