Water Birds of Valley Ranch – Part 3 – Muscovy Duck

Imagine walking the canals of Valley Ranch on a beautiful Tuesday morning and seeing this Mama Jama.

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My first thought was what the heck is a turkey looking duck doing in Valley Ranch?

Truth be told, my very next thought was a Turducken with legs. I’m not proud. This bird was big enough to hold a duck, a chicken, all the stuffing and most of the side condiments. I was already planning my Thanksgiving dinner.

Upon further inspection I realized it was not a turkey but a Muscovy Duck. Muscovies are native to Mexico, Central and South America – but they originated in Brazil. In the United States, they are common in Florida and southern Texas. It was a bit odd to see a Muscovy in Valley Ranch in May.

Muscovy’s are a large duck, with the males measuring about 30 inches in length, and weighing up to 15 pounds. The most distinctive feature is the featherless, bright “lumpy” red mask around their eyes and above the beak.

In their natural range of South America, they are often referred to as “Musco ducks” meaning “Mosquito Duck” because they eat lots of mosquitoes. Can you say alternative to spraying?

A major benefit associated with having these ducks in urban areas is that they help keep insect populations down, such as mosquitoes, roaches, flies, spiders (including poisonous ones) and even ants. They will basically eat any bug they can find. Muscovies also eat maggots and mosquito larva in the water, thus making a huge difference when it comes to insect control.

They catch bugs flying around and those they find on the ground or under rocks.

Muscovies are efficient weed eaters. But on the downside, they will also go for your vegetables and fruits – so all the good stuff needs to be protected.

Fun Fact: Muscovies communicate with one another by wagging their tails and raising and lowering their heads at one another. Sounds like a typical day around my house. However, my spouse’s response to my tail wagging and head bobbing does not translate into take out the trash. Truly a lack of communication!

Till next time

Barb the Bird Watcher


This post is Part 3 in a series. You can go back and read Part 1 or Part 2.

If you enjoyed this post, please rate it and/or submit your comments below.

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2 Responses to Water Birds of Valley Ranch – Part 3 – Muscovy Duck

  1. steveatx says:

    Thanks for the info, Barb; keep it coming. Think I spotted a black crowned night heron one evening last week.

  2. B Parker says:

    I believe I’ve seen these in Alabama too, around the golf course. Keep trying the tail wagging and head bobbing. I think you’re spouse will eventually get it.

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