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Resolution: female mallard vs. teal vs. garganey


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Some weeks ago, I asked for help identifying a female mallard-like duck that looked definitely different from nearby obvious mallards. The bill was dark, the face had well-defined dark and light stripes, the neck seemed longer and more erect. The resulting discussion rapidly expanded, with some opinions favoring garganey and many others favoring mallard. As original poster, I had been asked to post the results from Washington state bird experts when available. However, the original thread ended up locked. Perhaps the moderator could post a link to the thread since it had photos.

I thought some of you would be interested that members of the Washington Bird Records Committee concluded I observed and photographed  a Mallard x Pacific Black Duck hybrid, and provided links to resources with some pictures and videos remarkable similar to what I saw: https://ebird.org/species/x00458, and https://ebird.org/checklist/S64822797. They apparently consider this not rare, and there was mention of the likely interbreeding of wild ducks with escapees from domestic-raised duck populations. Nevertheless, their comment was “that is a very interesting duck indeed.”

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Really? I honestly don't understand how a records committee could reasonably conclude, with any type of certainty, that your bird was such a hybrid. Pacific Black Ducks are not known to be commonly kept in captivity, are they? I could not find anything about it with a preliminary search. Short of genetic analysis, how on earth can such an exact determination be made?

Hybrid ducks, in particular, pose a specific challenge because they often express ancestral traits that may not necessarily indicate the parent species well. Add on to that the immense diversity and complexity of Mallard plumage, particularly with interbreeding with domestic races, and it seems absurd to believe that the most likely option is a hybrid with a species of wild Black Duck native to New Zealand and Australia. As Tony pointed out in the last thread:

"The extra facial line on the female bird in question is often found in Mallards, particularly in Mallards with some domestic genes".

As I mentioned in the last post, I see no reason this is a Mallard, likely with domestic genes somewhere down the line. I don't mean to come off condescending and I'm sure they are all better birders than I, but did those on the records committee share how the ID was ascertained? Did someone go out with a shovel and collect droppings?

Edited by Hasan
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I guess unless Pacific Black Ducks really are commonly kept in captivity, to me, the resolution is akin to claiming that a duck in New Zealand/Australia is a Mallard x Mexican Duck hybrid, which, while it might superficially be similar to a bird, is pretty much not a reasonable option given the location unless you can prove it using DNA evidence.

Edited by Hasan
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7 hours ago, Hasan said:

 As I mentioned in the last post, I see no reason this is a Mallard, likely with domestic genes somewhere down the line.

Sorry, that's supposed to say I see no reason this isn't a Mallard. Lol

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16 hours ago, Hasan said:

Really? I honestly don't understand how a records committee could reasonably conclude, with any type of certainty, that your bird was such a hybrid.

This

It is a (Domestic) Mallard.

 

Edited by Bird-Boys
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17 hours ago, Hasan said:

Really? I honestly don't understand how a records committee could reasonably conclude, with any type of certainty, that your bird was such a hybrid.

 

17 hours ago, Hasan said:

resolution is akin to claiming that a duck in New Zealand/Australia is a Mallard x Mexican Duck hybrid, which, while it might superficially be similar to a bird, is pretty much not a reasonable option given the location unless you can prove it using DNA evidence

Agreed, whole-heartedly. 

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