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Mottled Duck x Mallard Hybrid?


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Bumping my own thread with some info.  When using the full picture of the duck, Merlin reports Mallard, (It does report breeding male though, which makes no sense to me) and iBird photo sleuth reports Mallard 45% confidence, Mottled Duck 39% confidence, and Blue-winged Teal 12% confidence.

When giving the apps the back view, Merlin reports Mottled Duck, while iBird photo sleuth reports Mottled Duck 94% confidence, Wild Turkey 4%, American Black Duck 0%.

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You are asking about the duck that is facing away from the camera I assume. The other one (which is also the duck in the second picture I believe) is clearly a male hybrid.

I use the following traits in trying to decide if I duck like this is hybrid.

Sex determined by Bill color – male of both species should be bright yellow. That bill looks yellow but with angle and lighting I don't know. This time of year (mating season) you expect it to be at its brightest.


Eyeline – a mottled duck has a very short one and the mallard's almost touches the the darker feathers at the back of the head. A short eyeline is a good indicator of pure as for some reason any hybridization seems to lengthen it. The duck in the second picture is a good example of an eyeline that is just too long to be pure mottled duck. I can't see any eyeline on the duck in question which I assume must be the result of lighting.
Gape spot – A mallard has none. You see any gape spot you know it must have some mottled duck genes. A hybrid, especially with a majority of mottled duck genes, can have a good gape spot also. However, if the gape spot is very small or deformed shape it's not a pure mottled. This duck appears to have a good gape spot but you really can't tell from this angle.

White in the tail – if there's any white in the tail feathers it has some mallard. However, feathers wear during the year on the edges. Fortunately in this case we have a very good picture of tail and is my opinion that is not a true white color but rather worn feathers. By June 1, they will show a lot more very light colored edges due to wear.  

 I don't see anything that eliminates it from being a pure mottled duck and that would be my opinion. Better photos of the front are probably necessary.

What happened to Tony Leukering, did he retire or just get tired of messing with us amateurs? Maybe you can make a determination by googling "Tony Leukering muddled ducks" and going through all of the markers he lists in that article. 

  

Edited by von Humboldt
typo
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2 hours ago, von Humboldt said:

You are asking about the duck that is facing away from the camera I assume. The other one (which is also the duck in the second picture I believe) is clearly a male hybrid.

I use the following traits in trying to decide if I duck like this is hybrid.

Sex determined by Bill color – male of both species should be bright yellow. That bill looks yellow but with angle and lighting I don't know. This time of year (mating season) you expect it to be at its brightest.


Eyeline – a mottled duck has a very short one and the mallard's almost touches the the darker feathers at the back of the head. A short eyeline is a good indicator of pure as for some reason any hybridization seems to lengthen it. The duck in the second picture is a good example of an eyeline that is just too long to be pure mottled duck. I can't see any eyeline on the duck in question which I assume must be the result of lighting.
Gape spot – A mallard has none. You see any gape spot you know it must have some mottled duck genes. A hybrid, especially with a majority of mottled duck genes, can have a good gape spot also. However, if the gape spot is very small or deformed shape it's not a pure mottled. This duck appears to have a good gape spot but you really can't tell from this angle.

White in the tail – if there's any white in the tail feathers it has some mallard. However, feathers wear during the year on the edges. Fortunately in this case we have a very good picture of tail and is my opinion that is not a true white color but rather worn feathers. By June 1, they will show a lot more very light colored edges due to wear.  

 I don't see anything that eliminates it from being a pure mottled duck and that would be my opinion. Better photos of the front are probably necessary.

What happened to Tony Leukering, did he retire or just get tired of messing with us amateurs? Maybe you can make a determination by googling "Tony Leukering muddled ducks" and going through all of the markers he lists in that article. 

  

I've asked this question a lot here and this has been the most informative reply.  Yes, I did read Tony Leukering's term paper on the subject but am still often confused.

A few things.  The duck in the second picture is the same duck that is on the right in the first picture.  I think this wasn't clear to you when you stated, " I don't see anything that eliminates it from being a pure mottled duck and that would be my opinion," since you earlier stated, "The other one (which is also the duck in the second picture I believe) is clearly a male hybrid.

Here are the other pics I have of the same duck.  Since this shows different lighting, it will hopefully make the matter even clearer.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/429995301

2400?__hstc=264660688.11bbbc6bc4503610c3

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/429995321

2400?__hstc=264660688.11bbbc6bc4503610c3

 

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Are you saying the duck in the first picture on the right, facing almost directly away (I'll call Duck A) from the camera is the same duck that's in the other three pictures? They appear to me to have different colored tails than duck A.

The last three pictures appear to show a black top of the butt that would be indicative of a male mallard. Also, the last three pictures appear to show slight variations in bill color and gape  spot, is that just the lighting? 

Edited by von Humboldt
typo
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, von Humboldt said:

Are you saying the duck in the first picture on the right, facing almost directly away (I'll call Duck A) from the camera is the same duck that's in the other three pictures? They appear to me to have different colored tails than duck A.

The last three pictures appear to show a black top of the butt that would be indicative of a male mallard. Also, the last three pictures appear to show slight variations in bill color and gape  spot, is that just the lighting? 

I'm kicking myself for having deleted some of the pictures yesterday, as the order and timestamps would have helped me answer your questions with more certainty.|

This is what I can answer.

With 100% certainty, this duck:

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/429995301

2400?__hstc=264660688.11bbbc6bc4503610c3

Is the same duck as this duck:

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/429995291

2400?__hstc=264660688.11bbbc6bc4503610c3

I know the area and remember the duck coming out of the water, and the picture timestamps agree with me. 

Yesterday, (without having verified with picture timestamps and orders) I was certain that these two pictures were also the same duck:

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/429995321

2400?__hstc=264660688.11bbbc6bc4503610c3

8eUJIN6.jpg

In the last picture, I'm referring to the duck on the right.

I may indeed be wrong though with the last assertion because I got two of the birds mixed up.  I only reported the one certain hybrid to Ebird as Mallard x Mottled Duck (hybrid), as the other two birds appeared to be pure Mottled Ducks to me which I reported as such without pictures since I didn't have anything worth posting - I may have not had anything else at all. 

Edited by dragon49
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I just reread Tony's article.
I'm going to number the photographs attached to your last post 1-4 from top to bottom. 
One and two are the same bird. The shadows make colors difficult to discern, but clearly picture 2 identifies it as a male based on Bill color. The eye line is longer than most pure mottled ducks but may be within the spectrum of length for a mottled duck. The gape spot is small but according to Tony that doesn't eliminate pure. What I'm saying is both of these markers indicate hybrid but do not positively confirm it. The tail appears to be black on the upper tail coverts with the butt being white on the side and the bottom. These are the colors of a male mallard, so assuming I'm seeing the correct colors that eliminates any chance of a pure mottled duck. However, it's unusual to not see any curl in the tail.
Picture 4- I still say the duck on the right is probably a pure mottled duck, but need a good picture of the head to confirm.

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