Saturday, November 7, 2009

Invaded by Communists

Well, they're not really Communists but that's a more exciting title than 'Bought Some Muscovy Ducks' today, isn't it?

Here's how they came home. We went to the flea market looking for some more mallards, and saw these beautiful huge black-and-white ducks. We wanted big ducks (more on why in a bit), and these are the biggest ducks I've ever seen. So we bought what the seller said was a pair and took them home in a big cardboard box. The seller taped the box, and we watched the tape nervously all the way home. These are BIG ducks, with claws. Who knew a duck could have claws? (Talons?)

They were quiet, though, and we made it home safely without having one of those tragic three-car pileups caused by the usual 'ducks with claws flying around in a car driven by two idiots.'

We took them down to the pond, and with a bit of caprine assistance, they jumped into the water and swam away. They immediately saw our other ducks, and sailed majestically toward them. Our ducks, being smaller, cleverly decided to flee rather than turn and fight, and we were treated to the sight of the two new ducks paddling desperately after the fleeing group all the way around the pond until they were back where they started. At that point, the (alleged) female Muscovy abandoned her friend and joined our group, leaving the poor male to follow the group pathetically at a distance. We're hoping they'll all join up at some point.

Here's the dramatic release.

So what's a Muscovy duck, you ask? I'm glad you asked, because I've just done a lot of Internet research and would have been disappointed not to be able to share it. Muscovy ducks are native to South/Central America and Mexico, and were being raised as domestic ducks by various Indian groups when Columbus discovered? invaded? visited? the Americas. They're the only domestic duck not descended from mallards. The males can get to be 8-15 pounds, which is a very good thing in our hawk/vulture-infested area. The name apparently comes from the original name, which was 'musk duck,' and they actually have nothing to do with Russia or Moscow.

Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to get good pictures, but here's a blurry one. The whiter of the two is definitely a male Muscovy, but the other one is questionable, since apparently Muscovies should have a red face, and this one doesn't. So it may be a cross, but according to Wikipedia, the Muscovy-mallard crosses are infertile.

Also, according to Wikipedia, Muscovy ducks are called Barbary ducks 'in a culinary context.' I can't tell you how much I admire the delicacy of the phrase 'in a culinary context.' The seller told us that most people buy them for culinary contexts. (He may have phrased it a little differently.)

Here's a closer picture, though still blurry.

I'm thrilled by this purchase -- cheap at $12 a duck -- because I wanted some 'different' ducks, and I also wanted big ducks. We've already lost one of the three mallards we bought recently to a vulture, I'm afraid. My husband was fishing at the pond, and came across a pile of feathers. He looked over at the ducks, and realized one of the new males was missing....and that there was a group of vultures sitting in a nearby tree.

I try to accept the cycle of life, but it's not always easy...especially when we're paying for the vulture feast...

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  1. Thanks! We only intended to buy one, but they were both so beautiful that we couldn't resist them.


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