A Home for Hooves is home to several Muscovy ducks that were rescued in January 2019. They are bush ducks and are very sneaky on where they hide their nests and eggs. Michelle and the volunteers at A Home for Hooves have quite the ordeal trying to keep track of all the nests and eggs. They collect the eggs and then feed them back to the ducks so they can retain the nutrients they've lost through the egg laying process.
There are between 140 – 175 birds in the Anatidae family, which includes all ducks, swans and geese.
Wild Muscovy ducks have dark plumage and can be found in forested areas. The domestic varieties are heavier, less agile and have different plumage which varies. The domestic varieties live on farms and in parks in warm climates around the world.
Wild Muscovy ducks have strong claws and spend a lot of time perching in trees. As Michelle has found out, they make their nests in tree cavities, hidden in the brush and bushy areas.
The largest duck in North America is the male Muscovy duck, while the female is only half their size. The female Muscovy ducks lay 8-15 eggs and then plays protector of the eggs also raises the ducklings. The ducklings have sharp claws and hooked bills which they use to climb out of the nest.
Muscovy ducks are peaceful, calm birds that are quiet and friendly and even hunt flies. Like other ducks, they need water to survive and are hardy in all weathers.
I found this quite funny… if a Muscovy duck is happy or excited, they wag their tales! They also do this as a greeting sign but a male has been known to do it in aggression as well. Muscovy ducks have a flocking behaviour which makes them want to be around people. They live around 8-12 years in the wild but in domestic situations they can live up to 20 years.
Muscovy ducks are their own species. Many people believe that Muscovy ducks are more of a goose than a duck. This is thought because they do not quack and are known as being quackless.
Muscovy ducks eat a variety of different food. They are omnivorous which means that they feed on reptiles, fish, worms and insects. They love finding larvae under rocks, and also eat snails and crabs. Muscovy ducks also eat different plant material like weeds, leaves, seeds and roots.
Female Muscovy ducks start laying eggs when they are about six months old. In the wild, ducks will start laying their eggs in the spring.
Muscovy ducks have something called “caruncles” which are red fleshy parts around their face. Caruncles help Muscovy ducks keep their feathers clean while they peck at the ground or search the water for tasty larvae and insects.
These ducks will lay up to 180 eggs a year and have about four sets of ducklings. The eggs take longer than other poultry to hatch - an egg takes 33 to 35 days to hatch, but a chicken egg hatches in 21 days.
A note if you are going to the sanctuary to see the Muscovy ducks – bread is bad for a bird’s health. They fill up on the bread and then don’t get the right nutrients from insects and other staples in their diet.
Muscovy ducks are gorgeous looking birds. When visiting A Home For Hooves, make sure to ask Michelle to introduce you to these beauties at the sanctuary.
Author: Alex Singleton