An Unexpected Visitor

When I was working in our Greenbelt restoration site a few days ago, I was startled to see this bird staring at me. I walked closer to it so I could take its picture.

We looked at each other for a while. Then the bird walked over to a broken bowl and started drinking rain water.

At first, I thought the bird was a duck. Then, I decided it was too big to be a duck, that it must be a goose. I was concerned that it might start eating our newly planted shrubs.

As I pondered the situation, I wondered how a goose managed to get to Beacon Hill; we aren’t that close to Lake Washington.

Eventually, I started working again and just ignored it. At one point, when I looked towards the ledge, the bird was gone.

A few days later, people started posting notices on NextDoor, commenting on a duck that had been spotted in a variety of places in my neighborhood. One person said that it had even stopped traffic.Another person included a photograph. It sure looked like the bird that had visited me. Future posts revealed that it was a pet.

I felt embarrassed that I didn’t know the difference between a duck and goose, until I googled it. There are so many similarities between the two birds. One of the main differences is that a goose is usually bigger.

Someone wrote on NextDoor that the bird was a Muscovy duck. Wikipedia says this about Muscovy ducks:

The Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck native to MexicoCentral, and South America. Small wild and feral breeding populations have established themselves in the United States, particularly in Florida and the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas as well as in many other parts of North America, including southern Canada. Feral Muscovy ducks are found in New Zealand, Australia, and in parts of Europe. They are large ducks, with the males about 76 cm (30 in) long, and weighing up to 7 kg (15 lb). Females are considerably smaller, and only grow to 3 kg (6.6 lb), roughly half the males’ size.

This photo from Wikimedia was included in the Wikipedia article:

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=117668

I didn’t get very close to the duck but this description and photo sure looks right to me. I have no trouble believing that the bird I saw was 30 inches long and weighed 15 pounds. It sure is a long way from Mexico, Central and South America, Florida and Texas though!

I appreciate that it visited me that day, but still hope it stays away from the trees, shrubs and ground covers that we have planted.

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