Muscovy Duck (Cairipa moschata)
The Muscovy Duck is native to Central and South America. Unfortunately they have found their way to North America and specifically the Southeastern United States where these birds have become established. An “exotic” species of a bird or animal is one that is living outside of captivity that did not historically come from Florida. An “invasive” species causes harm to another species or ecosystem where it is introduced. The Muscovy Duck is a large aggressive bird that out competes other ducks for food and shelter in a habitat. It breeds with native ducks which creates hybrid ducks and passes diseases and unwanted traits to our native population of native ducks. The Muscovy Ducks as you can see from this picture have red or warty bumps on their face and head. The males can weigh up to 15 lbs. They made their way into this country by way of migration and through release by pet owners and the exotic trade business in Florida. Type in “Exotic Animals” in your browser and you will see a lot of businesses that would like to sell you animals and birds from other countries. Many of them are illegal to buy or own. People unknowingly feed these ducks and treat them as pets. The feral or wild population of these birds therefore keeps growing and does continuing damage to our wetlands and duck population. The University of Florida IFAS estimates there may be as many as 200 bird species in Florida that came from other countries. Florida is a natural habitat and breeding ground for exotic and invasive animals and plants because of our sub tropical climate. Invasive species such as the Burmese Python snake, Green Gecko lizard and Cuban tree frog are other examples of unwanted and harmful animals that have made their way to our state and become a large nuisance. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has more information about the Muscovy Duck and other invasive species in our state.