Muscovy Duckling Care in Your Backyard
Appreciating your local wildlife is conservation.
Living in Florida, near a lake, on a tidal canal feeding off Tampa Bay brings all the wildlife into my view. We do our best to maintain our property without pesticides and chemical threats. Leaving nature to bring the necessary players to eat that which needs eating. Muscovy ducks eat bugs. Adults eat the big bugs; ducklings eat the smallest. All these ideas please me.
Wild or domestic, ducks learn they have names if you apply them and use them. I stalked Simone and her ducklings still foraging in the freshly mowed field behind our house. The field serves as a flood zone. Never to be built on. Our view is terrestrial bordered on a large canal. The first two days after city mowing there's good stuff out there for ducks to eat. The cut grass leaves bugs exposed, soils open for slurping grubs and roots, with an easier path to other places.
I counted heads. Seven peeping ducklings. I headed back into the house to toss finely chopped romaine lettuce. The soft deep green leaves that seem almost off. I add the leftovers of the seven parrots living in this house. Cockatiel leftovers of grain loaf, finely mulled by hand, cast off cockatiel mix, and finely chopped cucumber skins. Mix that in a bowl with the romaine lettuce you get a crumbling goodness fit for little bills.
Feed your local wildlife to create a foraging rest stop.
Simone sees me coming over and tells her three-day old ducklings to wait there. They huddle in a close-knit puddle lowering themselves to become an even harder target to spot. Nature is impressive. Simone waddles over and peeps a hello with a tail wag. We discuss yesterday's event. Muscovy ducks will gladly hold a conversation with a friendly human. The trick is to listen to them.
"I still can't believe what happened to Tyler and Miranda!" Simone brings up yesterday's flock drama.
"Yes, I'm still outraged myself!" Agreeing while listening is appreciated by Muscovy ducks. The scramble her ducklings caused at lunch is fresh on her mind.
"Thank you for rescuing my ducklings. I had my wings full with Tommy, Theresa, Humbert, Cynthia, and Barry. You saved the day for us. What's in the bowl?"
Ducks, no matter the amount of gratitude they feel, waste no time when there's a meal. A tail wag will state their appreciation and get to the business of food. Best to move forward agreeably.
She turned around and walked toward Tyler, Miranda, Tommy, Theresa, Humbert, Cynthia, and Barry. I didn't move as I wasn't sure I had been invited in that direction. Never assume a thing when dealing with a mother duck. She looked over her shoulder toward me and at the yellow food bowl in my hands.
"Are you coming? We have to be lakeside by 10 am. And we haven't foraged near the fences yet." Her look speaks volumes to my confusion.
Nothing about this feels abnormal. I jump start my walk behind her, pause a few feet away as she releases her brood to ramble about. I carefully toss everything in different directions, so they have room to fit each other at any time.
Feeding your backyard wildlife is a natural extension to conservation at large.
Set up feed and feeding areas and times to visit. Allow them to see a foraging rest stop, one to add to the many locations they visit every day. All birds and ground animals hunt for food in cycles. Be a rest stop. Enjoy the company of your neighborhood wild things.
Chopped kitchen leftovers will be a welcomed addition for all the birds. Save your fruit and vegetable parts left behind from cooking and meals. Chop them up stir them in with oatmeal. Simple as that.