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Tom the Muscovy Duck
Tom was a very special friend of mine.
There was a duck at Lake Murray in San Diego, California that everyone loved named "Tom the Turkey Duck". He had lived there for a very long time, though no one seems to know exactly know how long. Some say he was there for 20 years, some say 12 or 15 years. I just know he's been a fixture there for just about as long as I can remember. He used to have friends, but his last friend, a white pied muscovy, died a year before Tom did.
All photos in this lens were taken by me except for the Allposters one.
Tom was a Muscovy Duck
Few people who visited the lake knew what Tom was, not even me when I first met him. I was afraid of him and his friends as they were very big and hissed a lot. But, now I know that they were Muscovy ducks and they hiss instead of quack, especially the males. Also, they are very docile and friendly to people, though the males can be aggressive to other male Muscovies and birds.
Tom is what is known as a wild-type Muscovy or black Muscovy amongst Muscovy fanciers. He's not a pure wild-type because he has a little too much white around his head and neck. His last remaining friend was a white pied Muscovy. Muscovy drakes such as Tom could weigh up to 15 pounds easily, females are much smaller, about half the size. Tom was actually very lean and could fly up the last couple months of his life like his wild cousins. It is unknown how he got to the lake because many Muscovies are perfectly capable of flying well and often escape from private homes and farms if their wings are not clipped.
Learn more about Muscovy Ducks
Here are some sites that have information about Muscovy ducks, both wild and domestic varieties.
- Muscovy Ducks
- Muscovy Ducks (Cairina moschata)
Muscovy Ducks (Cairina moschata): Range, Description, Photos, Diet, Breeding
- Whatbird.com--Muscovy Duck
Muscovy Duck: Large, usually domesticated duck; wild birds are dark with white wing patch that is visible in flight; domesticated birds occur in any mix of white and black. Crested head; bare face, may be black or red or a combination, has large wart
- Muscovy Duck Regulations
Muscovy duck regulations from the Fish and Wildlife Service in the United States. It's a bit dry, but informative. Some of the law has been re-written to allow for show and meat animals.
Amazon items about Muscovy Ducks
Here are some items about Muscovy ducks. Unfortunately, some of the items will be about cooking/eating these types of ducks as they are considered a delicacy in some areas.
If you want a specific type of product with a Muscovy duck picture on it, let me know and I will track it down.
The story of two Muscovy ducks who were dumped and needed a new home. In some areas of the country, Muscovy ducks are often dumped causing problems down the road.
This book tells the value of a special Muscovy duck who comforted British troops in WWII and eventually received a rank and medals.
Tom was beautiful!
Tom was a beautiful duck with bright green, shiny feathers. Though many people couldn't get past his carnuncled face.
Tom was mostly blind
Tom began to get blind about two years before he died. During his last days, he could hardly see anything except for a little bit out of the corner of his eyes. Both eyes were nearly clouded up. However, he was still able to feed himself and keep away from predators.
Tom's favorite human food was wild bird seed. Though bird seed is really bad for duck's stomachs, he demanded that people feed him that. He didn't like bread, cracked corn, or anything like that. He would eat regular duck food and he did tolerate some cat kibble food. He also ate a lot of his wild foods such as grasses, algae, bugs, and snails. Even though he couldn't see well, he could still take care of himself.
Tommy on the lake
In this photo, Tom had just flown into the lake and was heading towards his afternoon napping area. He was going through a molt at the time, so he didn't look his best. Each morning, he would come to get food from some friends of mine and afterward, he would go to a safe area where he would nap for most of the day. If he was hungry again, he would visit again in the afternoon or evening. I suspect that this is where he died, in his favorite napping spot. I never found out what truly happened to him, but we all could see that he wasn't going to be around much longer.
A drawing of Tom
Here is a colored pencil drawing I did of Tom from a photo I took.
Videos/slideshows with Tom in them
Here are some video packages with Tom in it either as just a cameo or the entire story about him.
Tom the Muscovy and a Sunday at the Lake
Remembering Tom the Muscovy
Articles about Tommy
- Old Timer at Lake Murray (Part1) - San Diego Nature | Examiner.com
At Lake Murray, one of San Diego's city lakes, there's a big, black, hissing creature that roams around near the main parking lot off of Kiowa Drive.
- Old-timer at Lake Murray: Tom the muscovy duck (part 2) - San Diego Nature | Examiner.com
Tom spends the morning looking for handouts from people. He especially likes bird seed.
Muscovy owners, be aware of changes to the law
A couple of years ago, changes in the federal laws were implemented making owning Muscovy ducks illegal. However, recent changes have been made to allow people to own these ducks for meat, eggs, or show related purposes and NOT for pets. All ducks must be permanently marked with either a seamless metal band, web tattoo, wing pinion or web hole punch. Ducks also must either have their wings clipped or be restrained from flying if their wings are not pinioned.
Currently such laws are not being enforced and many people still keep Muscovy ducks as pets. However, at any time, they might decide to enforce the rules, so it's best to have a plan to be able to legally keep them before they tell you that you can't. Please be responsible for your ducks and not let them get loose and make sure your ducks are properly marked. Also, breed responsibly. In some areas of the country, feral Muscovies have become a serious problem and have had a bad effect on the local waterfowl populations. In some states where they have become a nuisance, eradication measures are taking place.
I would like to hear your Muscovy duck stories. Also, if you have any updates on the current laws, that would be great!