This is a continuation of the previous article that can be accessed here.
Tom spends the morning looking for handouts from people. He especially likes bird seed, which is actually not good for his stomach, but generally picks through the seeds he likes and spits out the rest. . He will also eat bread and junk food, which can contribute to his health issues. He doesn’t like cracked corn at all, but will accept vegetables and forage in the grass if there’s nothing better for him to eat. After he gets his fill, he goes across the lake to a fenced area where he naps for most of the rest of the day.
Many people are cautious and afraid of Tom because of his looks and large size. Plus, since he’s a muscovy duck, he hisses rather than quacks and people who aren’t familiar with muscovies may not know that he’s not being mean. He also tends to snap at food held in people’s hands. Mostly, he does this because he has a hard time seeing and often can’t tell if someone is giving him a handout or just moving their hands around.
After he gets enough to eat or gets tired of people and other ducks, he will swim to an area of the lake that is fenced off from the public. There, he will nap most of the day, usually alone and away from the other ducks and geese. In the past, he would hang out in a tree with his buddy near the front of Alvarado Bay at Lake Murray. Muscovies, afterall, are tree ducks and regularly perch in trees. But, since September of 2010, he and the rest of the ducks hang out past the fenced area possibly due to the appearance of a feral cat and raccoons.
In many areas muscovy ducks are considered a nuisance and wildlife agencies are looking for ways to eradicate or control them. They are considered an invasive, non-native species from southern Mexico and South America. A small muscovy flock in southern Texas has been deemed to be a wild flock and the Fish and Wildlife Service put them under their protection and control. But, all other populations are considered feral and there are programs to either eradicate them or stop them from breeding.
As the muscovy has become a protected wild species in the United States, regulations on possession and ownership of these ducks are being debated. Many feral populations start when pet muscovies fly away to or are dumped off at local parks. This is probably how Tom came to be at Lake Murray. Since muscovy ducks are prolific breeders, these feral populations have greatly increased, making it necessary for them to be controlled. However, in San Diego, no known muscovy management programs currently being implemented and it’s likely that Tom will spend the rest of his days at the lake.