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Tom the Muscovy Duck

Updated on September 5, 2014

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 in his molt
Tom in his molt

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.

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.

Corporal Haggis. The Wartime Story Of A Muscovy Duck
Corporal Haggis. The Wartime Story Of A Muscovy Duck

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 in his glory
Tom in his glory

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 eating grass
Tom eating grass

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

Tom swimming
Tom swimming

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

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!

Tell me about your Muscovy ducks!

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    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      I've never heard of a turkey duck. I'm sure Tom is really missed. Thanks for telling us about him.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      That was a great story I loved it! Also I used to have a male Muscovy his name was Icarus he ran away. I think because my neighboors called animal control. We rescued Icarus because his wing/leg was bleeding. I hope you get a chance to read this!

    • profile image

      ConvenientCalendar 4 years ago

      Like the pictures! Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great looking duck, thanx for sharing him with us.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 5 years ago

      Interesting-looking duck and quite colorful! Good luck on your book!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      This is sure an unusual looking duck. We've seen a pair of them at our local park. I like your photos.

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      @anonymous: It sounds like he got into something toxic or it could be avian botulism, which is common in waterfowl and shorebirds. He needs veterinary help. If that's not possible, try keeping him in a safe, quiet place and giving him lots of water if he can drink. Unfortunately, usually, when they can no longer move, it's often too late. The previous limping may not be related to the problem he has now.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We have a muscovy duck at our pond, just showed up one day, about a month ago he showed up limping a little, now he hardly can walk on one leg, he stills eats but not that much, he stills swims but with one leg, I notice today he was laying down because he can't move to much he uses his wings to help him but as he was laying there he laid his head down on the ground which I have never seen before can someone please tell me what's wrong?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Florida, specifically South Florida is an area of the country where the feral Muscovies have become a pest. Of course, it is due to the "good" intentions of some folks who feed them. This has associated duck food with humans and they have a tendency to waddle over any time they see a human outside with something in their hands.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 6 years ago from Maryland

      Great story! Thanks for sharing Tom with all of us! :)

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I was happy to read the story of Tom, the Muscovy duck. I hope he died peacefully while napping. It sounds like he was a fixture on that lake for so long.