Sunday, November 14, 2010

Teenage Dream

Muscovy ducks are a common sight in My Florida Backyard. This summer's last crop of ducklings has now grown into "teenage" ducks - they're in that awkward in-between stage where they have some adult feathers mixed in with their baby down, and they seem a little long and lanky.

Muscovy ducks are native to Central and South America and were introduced purposely to Florida in the late 1960s as an ornamental species. They thrive here in great numbers, becoming a nuisance species in many communities where their prodigious droppings cause messes on land and degrade water quality.

Part of the problem with muscovy ducks is due to the fact that humans often feed them, especially those with ducklings. This is certainly the case in and around My Florida Backyard, where our neighbors frequently throw them bread. (Side note: throwing bread to birds is a lot like feeding kids starchy snacks all day - it's unhealthy. If you have to feed the ducks, try cracked corn to more closely simulate their diet in the wild.)

A major ecological impact of concern about muscovy ducks is that they interbreed with native species, including the Florida Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula fulvigula), diluting the gene pool. This is frequently the case when native and introduced species mix.

Regardless, muscovy ducks are most likely here to stay in Florida. Their unusual appearance certainly does add interest to the landscape, and their ducklings are downright adorable. They can be annoying (like when they perch on our birdfeeder and clean out all the seed in a matter of minutes), but they're a regular part of My Florida Backyard, so we accept what we cannot change and and enjoy them for what they are.

1 comment:

  1. I think they are beautiful ducks. I love your pictures and thank you for the info and a glimpse of these lovely critters that visit your back yard.