Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Jan. 5, 2005)
A lesson learned from babies in the
Who can resist the sound of begging baby quacks or
the site of little baby duckling eyes?
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|Singing in the rain: This
Muscovy duck is not only comfortable in a residential backyard, it
seems to find great joy in the shower a hose provides.
It started out innocent enough. One day when we arrived home from work we were
greeted by a mom and her two little ducklings. The mother Muscovy followed me right
up to my front door with two tiny, downy babies gently quaking in tow. Well, I did
have that half eaten seven-grain bagel in my purse. Whats one little snack to
a hungry mom and two hungry babies on a cold day? What harm could that be, I asked
That question began me on my slippery slope. From that moment on mom made little or
no effort to feed her children except to forage our front lawn. She slept on my
front door step awaiting my entrance and exit. As friends dropped by over the next
couple of weeks they couldnt resist bringing a little treat for the mother
duck and her babies that had adopted us.
We made a decision not to feed the ducklings but would permit an
occasional snack if it was placed at the corner of the property.
One cold morning we opened the door to find two little ducklings barely feathered
with no mother. At first we were concerned that mom had been injured. Later that
day we saw her a half a block away in a not-so-delicate position with a large male.
She never returned.
We were left in care of two motherless hungry ducklings. During the day the babies
foraged upon the lawn. Following the lead of older ducks they eventually began
wandering farther afield. In spite of this, every morning and evening the two waifs
waited, regardless of the weather, huddled in the cold, under the Jeep against the
rain or pressed against the front door in one duckling ball for their surrogate
parents, us. We realized very quickly they had imprinted upon us. Our research
The Muscovy is originally from Central and South America, Mexico to North
Argentina where they nest in large tree cavities. It is accepted that they
originated in Brazil. There is evidence that these birds may have a more ancient
history back to the pre-Inca period in Peru. There are reports that Columbus made
notes during the 1400s that these ducks were being kept in captivity by the
In the 16th century some of these ducks were transplanted to Europe by the
Spaniards and Portuguese where they were domesticated and raised as a source of
meat and eggs. The Muscovy is the most popular meat producing duck in Queensland,
Australia. Muscovy males and females mature at one year of age.
Raised domestically they thrive on any good quality pelleted ration,
especially if its supplemented by a little whole grain, such as wheat. They
seem to relish an occasional feeding of greens, such as lettuce and will readily
take a special treat of dog meal or sea duck feed thrown on the water. Treats are a
good way to keep them tame, so you can easily check their condition.
(Northwest Muscovy Farm, www.greatnorthern.net/~dye/wild_muscovy_ducks.htm)
According to the Oklahoma State University, Muscovy hens can set three times a
year, and the egg clutches can vary from 8 to 21 eggs. The eggs are incubated for
Muscovy ducks feed on the roots, stems, leaves, and seeds of aquatic and
terrestrial plants, including agricultural crops. They also eat small fishes,
reptiles, crustaceans, insects, millipedes, and termites. (Ducks
The Muscovy isnt a Floridian native, but the Muscovy has become
Floridas most common domestic duck. Many are escapees from domestication that
have become semi-wild. Unlike many domesticated varieties of foul, Muscovy can fly.
According to the University of Florida, overpopulation of these ducks has become a
health problem and nuisance. UF recommends ceasing all feeding programs as a method
to control the population of Muscovy.
As time passes well gradually decrease the ducklings ration of pellets
but for now well not abandon our downy protégés or chase them
out of the periwinkles. Even seasoned naturalists can be tempted by cute, little,
begging faces but weve learned our lesson.
We shouldnt have interfered with Mother Nature. Let nature take its course.
Allow parents to parent, offspring to flourish and grow. Know when to ask for help
but also learn when to trust yourself and your own instincts. Know when to lend a
hand but know when to let go and when its best not to interfere. No one wins
unless we let things be as they are meant to be, back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.