The wild Muscovy Duck

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Story and photograph by Horace Brown

When I was about 7 years old, our family was living on a farm on KY 44 in Spencer County that was just south of the Shelby County line.  We, of course, raised the usual farm animals and fowls, and one species we raised were Muscovy Ducks. 


One spring day, a Louisville peddler stopped and wanted to buy three of these ducks.  It was around Easter and I am sure he envisioned making a quick buck by selling these domesticated ducks back in Louisville.  Apparently, what he nor any other buyer didn’t realize was that a Muscovy Duck can fly just like a wild duck. 

So he wound up selling these ducks as Easter backyard pets.  Once released, they rose and flew just like any wild duck, probably to the Ohio River or some other body of water, and were never seen again by the rightful owner, who sadly experienced a duckless Easter.

The wild Muscovy Ducks that are shown in my photographs depicts a male with the usual knobby face and a female, which has a much smoother face and are smaller. 

These ducks are 25 to 31 inches long with a 38-to-48-inch wingspan and weigh 3.3 to 6.6 pounds. 

They are usually blackish with variable iridescent purple or green and also usually have some white patches. 

Originally the Muscovy was south of the border, but are now regularly breeding in Florida and Texas and on north and spreading out from escaped captivity.  I have seen them in Shelby County mixed in with other domestic ducks.

They usually nest in tree cavities or man-made boxes and little else is known about the duck’s nesting habits since moving into the USA, but they appear to be here to stay in the great outdoors.

To read more columns about birds by Horace Brown, visit www.SentinelNews.com/recreation. Horace Brown is a civil/sanitary engineer, land surveyor and nature photographer and writer. To contact him or order a Brown’s 2017 hawks and owls calendar, E-mail whbrownpelpls@aol.com, call 502-682-7711 or write 527 Main St., Shelbyville 40065.