He is a she, says reader Doug Miller.
“Freddie is an adult female domestic thus feral Muscovy,” Miller writes, confusing me. I don’t see how a duck can be both domestic and feral. Perhaps Freddie has a Jekyll/Hyde character. It didn’t seem so when I observed her chumming with a 5-year-old boy. But you never know with those Muscovys.
“Looks fairly young,” Miller continues. “Appears to be wild-type coloration/pattern (black with white wing-patches, irridescent, especially on back, carries one white gene which yields haphazard white blotches). Obviously grew up in close proximity to people who handled it fairly often or it wouldn’t let Timmy pet it like that, as birds normally regard such a motion as a threat to move out of the way.
Miller goes on quite authoritatively: “Males raised alone can be a problem as they will imprint on humans and can attack them as adults regarding people as birds to be mated or dominated especially during the spring/summer. Otherwise Muscovy ducks are not a problem unless there are 100 of them and they are messing up your lawn.”
He concludes with this sidenote: “Golden Gate Park in San Francisco used to get a lot of animals dropped off. Rabbits and cats especially. The feral cat colonies were horrific bird-killing, flea-infested eye-sores. Coyotes moved in about 5 years ago and made short work of them. Maybe we can have Califorina Quail back now.”