Meet the four newest residents of Canyon Lake: Hazel, Daisy, Donald and Binny. The four Muscovy ducks arrived in Canyon Lake in early September. They’ve made their new home under the big red plastic turtle at Diamond Point Park on Blue Teal Dr.
Hazel, the small brown female duck, is about 1 1/2 years old. Daisy, the small black female duck, and Donald, the large black male duck, are Hazel’s children. They are 8 months old. Binny, the large grayish male duck, is Daisy and Donald’s cousin.
Binny’s original name was Minny. His owner changed his name after she realized that he was a male, not a female. Although Binny is the largest of the four ducks, he is the youngest among them.
Hazel, Daisy, Donald and Binny are domestic Muscovy Ducks. The term Muscovy means, “from the Moscow region.” However, Muscovy ducks are neither native to Russia nor were they introduced there.
A resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the ducks used to belong to a woman in Temecula who had to move and couldn’t take the ducks with her. The resident says the woman made several attempts to locate an animal shelter that would take the ducks; but none of them would, so the ducks were brought to Diamond Point and released there.
Resident and local science teacher Kathy Blakemore raised ducks when she was growing up and says she is very concerned about this trend of releasing domestic ducks into Canyon Lake. Kathy says the majority of domesticated ducks are bred to be heavier, flightless and, as in the white Pekin duck, are bred for egg and meat production.
Kathy says she has observed the negative impact of these domestic duck breeds mating with their wild duck neighbors and has seen firsthand that these crosses affect the fitness of the offspring.
Kathy adds that she finds it difficult to understand why people think it is perfectly fine to abandon ducks that were raised as pets. She also wishes to point out that, according to California Penal Code 597s, it is a misdemeanor to willfully abandon an animal and warns there are additional laws dealing with Muscovy ducks specifically.
Local animal expert Ken Cable shared that the release of ducks into the lake has been happening ever since he moved here 30 years ago. He cautions, however, that there are two clear hazards relating to this issue. First is the threat of diseases being introduced into the wild population that calls Canyon Lake home.
The second is that pen-raised and fed animals and birds may find it difficult to forage on their own after being released, which could lead to starvation.
Long time Canyon Lake resident Mike Chaffey has taken a liking to the new ducks. Mike makes daily visits to the park to feed them. “I stop by at least once a day and feed them organic brown rice,” he says.
Mike recommends that residents do not feed the ducks bread, saying, “Bread is bad for all breeds of ducks for many reasons. For their well being it is best to never feed them bread. Good nutrition is critical for keeping the ducks healthy.”
The two territorial white ducks that have lived at the park for many years seem to get along well with their four new roommates. They don’t chase them off like they often do with many of the other ducks. They seem to have accepted the Muscovy ducks into “their” park.
According to Wikipedia, “The Muscovy is native to Mexico, Central America and South America. It comes in several different colors, including brown, chocolate, lavender, blue, white and black two-tone. The true wild Muscovy duck, from which all domesticated Muscovies originated, is blackish with large white wing patches.
The red, fleshy parts on the Muscovy duck’s face are caruncles. Caruncles help them keep their feathers clean when they dabble in mud. They grow as the duck grows, and they keep growing. Caruncles also form if a duck fights with another duck and irritates the skin.
Muscovy ducks are a non-migratory species that like to eat small fish, insects and reptiles, and feed on the roots, stems, leaves and seeds of aquatic and terrestrial plants. They do not swim as much as other ducks because their oil glands are not as developed.
The large domestic males can weigh up to 18 pounds; the females up to 9 pounds. Muscovy ducks do not quack. The males have a low breathy call while the females have a quiet trilling coo. Muscovy ducks can fly but the males don’t usually get far off the ground. Some like to roost in trees. Their dropping are a natural part of the ecosystem and biodegradable.
The Muscovy ducks at Diamond Point are not aggressive. Most aren’t; however, the males can become aggressive towards other males during breeding season, and the females can be aggressive when it comes to protecting their young.