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Is the duck in front 100% Mallard?


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15 hours ago, chipperatl said:

I say not a pure Mallard.  Should be out of eclipse plumage by now.

I agree with Mottled (back) and Mallard hybrid (front). As far as I can tell all of our local Mallards completed moulting some time ago. Attached is a photo from this morning of a somewhat similar Mallard/Black Duck hybrid (usually the green on the head of this hybrid is more along the top similar to the Sibley illustration - at least in my experience). FWIW - as always I defer to the experts, unfortunately we seem to have lost some our waterfowl experts.

Mallard x Black Duck hybrid HVT-7534677.jpg

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21 hours ago, Seanbirds said:

But is the male a hybrid or just molting? If I saw that here I'd call it a pure Mallard, but I dunno.

I would've written it off as an molting male Mallard. I don't see a reason to believe there is hybridization, but I have zero experience with Mottled Ducks.

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That's gotta be some sort of Mallard x Mottled hybrid/backcross. There's quite a few features that don't make sense for Mallard like the brown flanks, head and back coloration, and the greenish (Mottled-like) speculum. It's also too late in the year for an eclipse bird and intersex birds have a female-type bill.

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I believe both birds are males.

top bird – I believe this is a pure mottled duck based on the shortness of the eyeline and the lack of white on the tail. Some of those tail feathers are rather light but I believe that is due to overexposure and no true whiteness. Also, it's a nice gape spot although hybrids often show some type of gape spot. However, I believe it is also a male and therefore it shows absolutely no indication of mallard genes.  Being from south Louisiana originally, I have extensive experience with the Texas – Louisiana subspecies (whose bills are essentially indistinguishable from a female mallard) and my experience with the Florida subspecies is limited. I know the Florida subspecies female can have a mallard- like Bill or a drab olive greenish yellow bill. To my knowledge, I've never seen a mottled (or a black duck) with that yellow of a bill identified as a female. Nobody could convince me it's a female other than Tony Luekering.

Bottom bird –  although it would be unusual for a mallard to show any eclipse plumage this time of year , if it were a juvenile in a late brood it's possible. Also, the pattern on the head is a little splotchy which is more like the transition from eclipse to breeding plumage. I agree that is most likely a hybrid with three quarters or more mallard ancestry but I wouldn't rule out later eclipse juvenile. 

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After further review, I'm going to retract my statement on the bottom bird that it is "most likely a hybrid." If that picture wasn't taken in Florida I wouldn't hesitate to say I later eclipsed Mallard. Since I now believe it is most likely later eclipse, I guess my proper response is "I don't know." 

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