Muscovy Duck

Description

Native to tropical climates, Muscovy ducks can nevertheless adapt to colder temperatures. They were intentionally introduced as a non-native species in parts of the United States to enhance the aesthetic appeal of public parks and lakes. While Muscovy ducks seem capable of peaceful coexistence with native species, scientists worry about interbreeding because it is unclear whether the offspring of interspecies mating will be able to adapt, resist disease, and survive. Aside from looking pretty, Muscovy ducks can benefit humans because they feed on irritating and destructive insects, like termites.

Appearance

Caruncles are a major distinguishing Muscovy duck characteristic. Usually only present on males, caruncles are fleshy, red, warty bumps that cover the area around the eyes and extend to the base of the bill. Muscovy ducks weigh anywhere between 10 and 15 pounds (4 and 7 kg), and males are typically larger than females. They may appear solid white, solid black, or mottled, with males featuring an iridescent green or purple sheen to their feathers, unlike females of the species. Muscovy ducks also have long, flat tails and large claws.

Habitat

Muscovy ducks are native to the tropical climates found in Central and South America, Mexico, and parts of Southern Texas. Since their introduction to the United States, they have also built up a presence in Florida and parts of New York, Washington, and California. They congregate in urban parks, especially those with bodies of water. Other favored habitats include forest streams, wetlands, swamps, mangroves, and freshwater ponds. In their native environments, Muscovies nest in tree cavities. The feral, non-native Muscovy ducks in the United States, however, tend to dig out shallow nests in the ground.

Entry

Are Muscovy ducks known to enter homes or yards?
Since their survival is contingent upon the presence of water, Muscovy ducks do not traditionally nest on lawns or enter manmade buildings. However, their omnivorous diet of small fish, reptiles, crustaceans, insects, millipedes, termites, and the roots, stems, leaves, and seeds of both aquatic and terrestrial plants may occasionally lead them onto privately owned property.

Damage

Do Muscovy ducks harm people or property?
As Muscovy duck populations grow quite rapidly and easily become territorial, their presence in public parks can be dangerous to humans. Particularly when they become accustomed to being fed, they will chase and attempt to bite people at random, which endangers children especially.

Additionally, Muscovies pose several health threats. For one, their droppings often get into water supplies and seriously affect the quality. For another, Muscovy ducks are known carriers of the avian influenza virus, which can be fatal to both the ducks and humans who contract the disease.

Control and Safety

The most effective method of Muscovy duck control is the restriction of feeding. Since most problems arise when the ducks feel entitled to food from humans, putting a public ban on feeding Muscovy duck populations significantly reduces the threat of attack. Property owners worried about the ducks venturing onto their privately owned land can eliminate standing water and erect fences around sources of vegetation, like gardens, to reduce the possibility of encountering Muscovies.

Trapping and Removal

Muscovy ducks are wild animals that can carry fatal diseases. Untrained individuals should not attempt to trap or remove the ducks from public or private spaces under any circumstances. Instead, Critter Control technicians should be called to deal with the problem. Trained in the behavior and removal of Muscovy ducks, Critter Control specialists eliminate infestations humanely.