Farewell to a Fine-Feathered Friend

The Muscovy duck affectionately known to Bay Farm residents by various names such as Percy, Elvis or Mr. Willie is gone — but not forgotten.

For the last 15 years, bikers, pedestrians and dog-walkers would pass by the white Muscovy duck who lived by the lagoon off of Robert Davey Jr. Way. Surrounded by hordes of coots and raucous mallards, Mr. Willie stood out from the other birds for his size, bright white feathers and dignity. While others squabbled over illegal handouts from the stroller brigade, this duck would stand back and wait his turn.

Now he is gone.

On July 2, concerned citizens noticed that the duck appeared ill and notified the . He was then taken by Winnie Kelly, a Wildcare volunteer, to the International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center.

According to Michelle Bellizzi, the San Francisco Bay Center manager for International Bird Rescue, the Center does not usually treat domestic species but when Kelly showed up with the Muscovy duck in her car, Bellizzi didn’t have the heart to turn them away.

“He was cold and wet and very thin,” recalled Bellizzi, “and he was favoring his right leg.” The first step was to get him warm. Then after he was warm and toasty, “we took some x-rays which revealed some masses in his organs that were not normal.”

Local residents suspected cancer. However, a visiting veterinarian performed a necropsy a week later and found the growths were the result of a massive infection of the liver, spleen and kidneys.

Given his age and failing health, the prognosis was not good. “It must have been very painful,” said Bellizzi.

There was nothing to be done except provide pain relief, food, warmth and tender loving care for his final day, which was July 9.

Back in the lagoon that Percy/Elvis/Mr. Willie called home, a makeshift shrine has sprung up at a tree next to the lagoon. Mourners have festooned the tree with flowers and plastic leis.

Donations in our local duck’s memory can be made to International Bird Rescue, birdrescue.org.

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virgo July 11, 2012 at 04:32 PM
how sad. :-( i used to see a duck out there all the time that looked like mr. willie. i don't know if it's the same duck but i named him quest. he sounded like he had asthma when he quacked.
Patti C July 11, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Thank you to all the folks who cared enough to try to help him and gave him some comfort at the end.
Susan Dunn July 11, 2012 at 10:02 PM
I saw Elvis (our neighborhood name for him) the day before he "disappeared". I had been seeing him regularly, as he didn't look well, and hardly moved from his perch next to the fresh water tap. He was was not cleaning himself, and not moving very much. I spent a long time feeding him and giving him fresh water. He ate a lot of food, and I figured he was too sick to look for food on his own. The next day he was gone! I was so afraid I had killed him by feeding him too much! It was a great relief to know that Elvis was given such loving care by the Association and by this lagoon neighborhood. I loved walking over to see him, and twice he swam over to our dock (about 3 months ago) when I called him and shook my corn container. He was certainly a very special feature of this neighborhood. I think he was a lucky duck to have so many caring friends. Please, someone, get another Muscovy Duck for us!!!!!
Annie Flanders July 11, 2012 at 11:28 PM
blessings to all who take care of animals -- especially all the wonderful people who took care of percy/elvis/mr willie.
Carrie Antaran July 12, 2012 at 05:06 AM
My son and I will miss him. My son has fond memories of visiting Mr. Willie while riding his bike on his way home from school. He always flew over near my son to say "hello." I even have a picture of my son with that duck.


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