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Joe and Lady Muscovy - A Love Story

By Tom Greaves
January 8, 2003

In the fall of 1999, Tom and Tiffany brought home Lady Muscovy from a flea market. They didn't really need any more ducks at their pond, but when the seller claimed that this one would be real good eating, they knew they had to save her.
Lady Muscovy pretty much kept to herself as there were no other Muscovys on the pond and none of the male ducks ever approached her. In the spring of 2000, to our surprise, Lady Muscovy set up a real nice nest with a dozen or so eggs in an empty whiskey barrel:
We didn't think that the eggs were fertile since we had never seen her with any male and sure enough after the eggs went bad we had to take them from her. She was broken hearted.
In the spring of 2000, she had a romance with Wally, a small Egyptian Goose with an attitude problem. Wally flies in from somewhere and spends about six to eight months with us every year. He is small for a gander, but he kicks butt on any other gander who gets near him or his girlfriend of the month.
We didn't know if a duck and a gander could produce any offspring, but we were hopeful and in the spring of 2001, Lady Muscovy started a new nest by the wheelbarrow and had another dozen eggs.
There eggs also turned out to infertile. Tom about lost his arm when he took them from her.

Lady Muscovy was so mad that she flew away and did not return for several months.
In the spring of 2002, she started another nest in the chicken coop. We knew that she hadn't been with any male and the eggs would not be fertile, so Tom replaced them with four abandoned goose eggs.

They hatched and she proudly took them out to the pond to show off. The geese came by, took one look at the babies and knew that they were theirs. So they took the babies from Lady Muscovy. She was heart broken again.
A few days later, she started another nest in the chicken coop. This time Tom replaced her eggs with chicken eggs, which she quickly hatched.

She hatched four chickens and seemed happy. Unfortunately she would take them to the pond to learn to swim and each day we noticed that there would be one less chick.
When she got down to one chick, a hen adopted it and Lady Muscovy was alone...again.

In September 2002, Tom and Tiffany were at a dinner for the Animal Rescue League and were at the table of Bill and Jane Rhule who are the waterfowl rescue people for the ARL. We told them about Lady Muscovy's plight. They said that they had rescued a male Muscovy who might be a nice mate for Lady Muscovy. His name was Joe. Apparently Joe had been an Easter duck who was kept by its owner in their garage. Joe had become too big to keep in the garage and he was "given" to Bill and Jane raise.
Two weeks later, Joe arrived at Lady Muscovy's pond. And what a handsome male he was!

Lady Muscovy just happened to be at the other side of the pond when Joe arrived. He was released and immediately spotted Lady Muscovy, and she saw him. They established eye contact and started walking around the edge of the pond towards each other. They met halfway around the pond and with no other introduction, made love. To put it mildly, Tom Tiffany, Bill and Jane were quite embarrassed but very happy for the Muscovy couple.
Two days later, Lady Muscovy started another nest in the chicken coop and laid 10 eggs. We were very concerned that it was so late in the year to start having babies, but there was no way that Lady Muscovy was to be denied.

On November 23, nine of the eggs hatched. Tom built an enclosure around the nest to keep the babies from falling out since the nest was about four feet off the ground.
The next morning we went out and Lady Muscovy and eight babies were on the pond. It was freezing out and the babies would not survive if left there, so we were able to herd them back into the chicken coop and into a new enclosure with a heat lamp on the ground. The next day, Lady Muscovy and seven babies were back on the pond. They were again herded back into the coop and the enclosure made more escape proof. Here is the family under the heat lamp:
This arrangement worked fine for a while, then the babies started to disappear, one by one. Some varmit was getting to them. When we were down to four babies, Tom finally constructed a large fully enclosed pen and moved the family there. This worked fine and the babies finally feathered out and were released on January 8, 2003.
Joe rushed out to greet them and escorted them to the pond. They all seem happy, but we will hold our breath until they are fully grown.
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