Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata
wild Muscovy duck originates in the wooded wetlands of South America,
where both sexes are a similar, glossy-black colour with a greenish/purplish
gloss and some white on the wings.
domesticated Muscovy duck is much heavier, with larger carbuncles
( the fleshy growth around the eyes ), and occurs in a
variety of colours including black and white, and lavender and white.
The drake is larger than the female, with an erectile crest and
mane, and prominent facial " warts ". They are common domestic
birds throughout many parts of the world including Africa.
the wild, they commonly roost in trees and even spend some of the
daytime perched in trees. In captivity, they sometimes make their
nests above the ground in holes in trees, barns or even in nest-boxes
erected for species such as owls or jackdaws.
is mainly vegetable, but close perusal of our birds will soon show
them ( especially the ducklings ) pursuing all manner of
insects which chance by. In the wild they are known to break open
the nests of termites with their powerful beaks.
speaking these ducks are not vocal. The ducks utter a soft quack
when communicating with their ducklings. The drakes hiss, especially
when threatened or displaying to other males or females. At these
times, the male engages in a rhythmic bobbing of the head forwards
and backwards, with neck outstretched, crest raised and wings partially
raised. The long tail is vibrated in a manner which appears like
" wagging " to us.
Bahama Pintail or White-cheeked Pintail
Anas bahamensis bahamensis
very popular species in water fowl collections, which is now found
in several colour varieties. The sexes are fairly similar in plumage,
but the drake is larger than the duck.
main features are the diagnostic, white cheeks and the typical,
long-pointed or " pin " tail.
you are lucky, you may see the drake display to the female by vigorous
head-shakes, then tilting forward in the water and, peacock-like
spreading his tiny tail whilst tucking his head and neck back. Females
also display to encourage their mates.
hardy in the UK, in the wild this pintail is found only in tropical
and sub-tropical regions of America. It breeds in the Bahamas, Cuba,
Hispaniola, and the Lesser Antilles, south to Guadeloupe, Curacao,
Trinidad, Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana, and North Brazil.
are now decreasing throughout its range due to excessive hunting
preferred habitat is well-vegetated fresh water ponds and swamps
where it feeds on all sorts of plant matter - roots, stems, and
seeds - with some aquatic insects and snails.
Proposed Cull of Ruddy Ducks
government sponsored cull of Ruddy Ducks is about to start
in Britain, with the Scottish end focused on Kilconquhar
Loch, in Fife.
This "avian ethnic cleansing" is designed - wrongly in
my view - to reduce or eliminate the spread of this harmless little
North American Diving Duck.
The bird has now spread all over Western Europe and is threatening
to genetically take over by interbreeding with the closely-related
and highly-endangered Whiteheaded Duck in Spain.
This particular population is probably a lost cause.
What conservationists are, however, desperate to prevent quite understandably
- is the Eastern spread of the Ruddy Duck into the countries of
the former Soviet Bloc, but in this they are also probably too late.
This little duck is already happily ensconced in countries like
Slovakia and Romania and merrily fraternising with the natives,
in this case, once again, the Whiteheaded Duck.
But why is a cull of this attractive little duck in Scotland
It is inadequate, as one RSPB spokesman claimed, to state that:
"It is all very unfortunate, but it's a classic example of
how it's better if you don't move the world's wildlife around.
"If you leave it where it has evolved naturally over thousands
of years then a balance is reached.
"That balance is being upset here and that's whv we must do
something about it." I am not alone in believing this effort
to be futile and unjustified.
Teal & British Waterfowl Association