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Old 07-11-2018, 12:21 PM
Location: Black Hammock Island
4,620 posts, read 14,981,249 times
Reputation: 4620


We have a Muscovy that's been living in our neighborhood for at least three years, maybe longer. Up until this Spring "Stevie" always stayed in one small part of the neighborhood. Not sure why he's now following the Canada geese all over the neighborhood. It's not as if the geese are new to the area nor are they behaving any differently than usual (making the rounds every day). I know that the residents at his former abode like him, do not have a new dog, nothing is different in that regard.

Stevie is rather bold. I don't know, but guess, that he's been fed by residents, so he's not shy about approaching. However, I really know zip about Muscovy behaviors. Friendly? Aggressive?

Here's what I see/hear:
Tail wagging - sometimes fanned sometimes not
Head feathers - sometimes up like a cardinal sometimes flat
Voice: usually a series of short "huffs", but sometimes a longer single windy release of air (not sure how to describe it)

Which of the above are friendly, which are aggression?

He has never reached out to bite me. BUT the big problem is that he often attacks a disabled Canada goose. The goose lost a foot to probably an alligator or large snapping turtle (both reside in our neighborhood lakes and ponds). Over the past couple of months Legoless has adapted very well to his stump that ends at his "knee" (I believe technically it's his ankle). Currently the geese are nearing the end of molt, so Legoless cannot fly. Stevie will chase him, pin him down, and peck his back pulling out feathers.

Legoless has been ostrasized by family groups and clans - he is considered a liability as a "beacon" to predators. However, in the past week he has been joined by four other outcasts (one is probably elderly and perhaps mateless). Stevie does not attack any of them, just Legoless.

I only presume Stevie is a drake and that Legoless is a gander. Obviously I could be wrong. Other geese will chase Legoless to keep him at bay, but I've never seen them actually connect, just chase. Why does Stevie attack Legoless?
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Old 07-12-2018, 02:09 PM
Location: Southern Quebec
1,433 posts, read 1,508,752 times
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I can't help you, but maybe someone who works or volunteers at a wild bird rescue/rehabilitation center might be able to.

Here's the link to one in our neck of the woods. Le Nichoir

If you scroll right down to the bottom of the home page, you will see an email address there.

Hope you'll contact them.

The ducks who live in the river area across the street from our house seem pretty mellow, they are mallards for the most part.
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Old 08-18-2018, 02:19 PM
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I actually raise them! What you described are common behaviors. Males/Drakes are much larger (1.5 to 2 times usually) than females, don't quack or honk but instead make the huff you described. The "comb" (fleshy part on head) of a male is also much larger. They have a tendency to rock their heads to and fro as they walk. They are good swimmers, but love to "dabble" their bills in the mud.
They are particularly fond of chicken scratch and debt corn as well as mud dwelling insects
The head feather movement you described is both fearful and aggressive behavior, but both genders display that. Generally, tail fanning is a territorial thing, but they won't attack a creature much larger than the male. If you ever get close, you'll see that the "teeth" are just a row of zig- zags around the bill.
Stevie's probably following the geese because he's lonely and they let him tag along. He's attacking Legoless because it's normal for most creatures to attack the injured, disabled or sick.
They're generally whites and mostly black mottled randomly. Genetics plays a major roll!
Just know that Stevie is more likely to "run" from you as anything. They actually make good but messy pets. They'll even wear harnesses and leashes and can be trained. Muscovians are much like dogs and they are much like chickens but nicer and messier.
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Old 08-19-2018, 06:23 AM
Location: Black Hammock Island
4,620 posts, read 14,981,249 times
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Thank you for the great information!

My guess about Stevie is that he was the victim of being a cute Easter gift duckling, the adorable ball of fuzz and fluff that, like kittens and puppies, do grow up and do require certain levels of care that aren't as "cute"; so they are either let go into the wild or worse. I'm thinking this because with some of his behaviors being un-muscovy-like, he may have never learned how to be a muscovy by watching and living among others of his kind.

Briefly there was another muscovy in the neighborhood, but I never saw it so I don't know if it was male or female. I was told they were together at one point. If it was another male, I could understand why he moved on and Stevie didn't follow. If it was a female, well, obviously no love-at-first-sight.

He is very smart - quick to catch on. Not long after my first post, Stevie did go after my dog. Owen, a medium-sized dog, is used to walking among the geese who naturally hiss at him, but because he pays them no never mind, they don't attack, not even when the goslings were little. However, Stevie did. Owen and I were so startled, as were the geese who started in on some flapping and honking because of the ruckus. I grabbed a nearby white plant stake and pushed Stevie away with it. Way away. He didn't like it, and he now doesn't like the look of the stake which I carry when Owen goes out. I don't have to use it because I'm pretty sure Stevie knows from one experience what the stake means.

Going after something much bigger than him is so un-muscovy-like.

About a week or so ago he did nip the back of my leg as if frustrated I wasn't giving him attention. It honestly didn't appear to be an aggressive action, just "hey, give me corn" or "pay attention to me". It wasn't part of a charge - he and a bunch of geese were just standing behind me. I had had my back to him and them looking at my big patch of milkweed that was full of monarch caterpillars and counting chrysalides attached to the roof soffit. A slight ouch to the back of my leg! When I turned around he was just standing there with head feathers down, wings held tight, tail wagging un-fanned as usual (it always seems to be wagging, usually un-fanned, but sometimes fanned).

Messy - yup :-) But so what ... that's what garden hoses are for if rain doesn't clear off our walkway. I enjoy the birds, and if our HOA wasn't opposed to chickens, I would have a coop, too. And a couple of female muscovies.

Despite Stevie being a curmudgeon, I do like him. He's funny. If he arrives alone he will wait for the geese, and when they arrive he runs to them huffing, tail wagging, usually head feathers up, and then melds into the geese group. However, my heart breaks at the end of the day when the geese start in on preflight checks (wing flexing, honking, the "let's go" head movements) and then fly off to wherever they spend each night (I think somewhere in the woody marshes across a tidal creek). Stevie just stands there with "where did they go??", and then walks around as if looking for them. He will spend at least 15 minutes doing this before either walking down the street to another pond or flying off to I-don't-know-where.

He will follow me around and would most likely come right into the house if I held the door open for him.

I don't think Stevie knows what kind of animal he is, what he's supposed to like and how he's supposed to behave. Rarely if ever do I see him in the water, not even when the geese are in the lake taking a bath or swimming to another part of the lake. Stevie just stays on shore or walks along the bank to join the geese. He will eat birdseed that has fallen to the ground from my feeders, probably insects in my grass, and I even watched him slurp a monarch caterpillar off a milkweed leaf (guess he's adapted to the toxins that make most birds get an upset stomach).

I visited a sanctuary for rescued farm animals recently - they have quite a few muscovies - and everything you described about muscovy behavior is what I saw and was told. I suspect Stevie is lonely, but because he doesn't know how to be a muscovy he is sort of "doomed" to loneliness. Although definitely not ideal, I just give him attention even though it's human attention...better than nothing I think.
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