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mallard - molting or domestic?


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Encountered this odd looking mallard at Santee Lakes in San Diego this weekend.

Not sure if the pale color here means it is molting or if it's just a domestic variety.

Hopefully this kind of question is allowed in this board. If not, my apologies. If not, I'll refrain from any further mallard questions.

image.thumb.jpeg.a18522b657c7c8272a409333cf7e9bf9.jpeg

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11 hours ago, Ruslan Balagansky said:

Hopefully this kind of question is allowed in this board. If not, my apologies. If not, I'll refrain from any further mallard questions.

I can't imagine why this question (or any other about Mallards) wouldn't be welcomed.

And I agree with @Ed hogg; all domestic Mallard mutts.  Too much white in all the wrong places.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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4 hours ago, Ed hogg said:

They are all domestic mallards. Someone correct me if I am wrong but don't wild mallards molt in late summer/early fall?

Do they not ever molt this time of year, or is it just somewhat unusual? Here are other photos I took that day of mallards I assumed were molting:

image.thumb.jpeg.8f883e1abbdd9e9efca777ae4c195f09.jpeg

image.thumb.jpeg.325f725726cfa246a0c0464e69c65e87.jpeg

image.thumb.jpeg.7c5c958e6a56c31ef64b29bd6da6fdc4.jpeg

image.thumb.jpeg.f245c46652b0ac4d2bfa09530e9e2ecb.jpeg

image.thumb.jpeg.32e8027bae6958c27b6083338eac0834.jpeg

Edited by Ruslan Balagansky
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3 hours ago, Ruslan Balagansky said:

Do they not? Here are other photos I took that day of mallards I assumed were molting:

I want to put it out there that I have no knowledge of when birds molt but here is what I found online:

Birds molt and grow new feathers two times a year or more, depending on their age, breed, sex, and weather. Molting requires a lot of energy, so it does not occur during migration and breeding season. For North American birds, molting occurs between July and August, and for tropical birds, molting occurs between August and November. Molting occurs in a gradual, symmetrical sequence, so that the bird is not left bald and unable to fly.

Edited by Ed hogg
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Yeah, I just couldn't quite tell from my own brief research about whether this really means that mallards never molt in June, or if it's just less common.

We counted roughly 150 mallards in that outing. They weren't all molting, but it seemed that quite a few were.

We've also seen quite a few ducklings lately, so it didn't strike me as unusual to see molting after seeing ducklings.

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1 hour ago, Ruslan Balagansky said:

Do they not ever molt this time of year, or is it just somewhat unusual? Here are other photos I took that day of mallards I assumed were molting:

image.thumb.jpeg.32e8027bae6958c27b6083338eac0834.jpeg

Anyone else think that bottom duck is a female Wood Duck?  I'm basing that on the eye ring,  the apparently smaller size relative to the Mallards, and the hints of squarishness and crest on the head.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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Btw, according to my footage, in that particular area (which was a part of the Lake 1 shoreline fenced off for construction work and inaccessible to visitors, so my photos were from quite far away), aside from approx 5 male + 1 mallard, there were 2-3 male wood ducks, 2 F/I wood ducks, several coots and 3 ruddy ducks (swimming; 2 male + 1).

EDIT: spotted a single ring-necked duck swimming nearby too.

Edited by Ruslan Balagansky
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7 hours ago, Ruslan Balagansky said:

Looking at Cornell's molt diagram for mallards, seems that they can indeed molt in June, if I'm reading it correctly: https://birdsoftheworld.org/bow/species/mallar3/cur/appearance#molts 

Yes, male Mallards are molting into female-like "eclipse" plumage now, and by next month there may be no green heads to be seen on that lake.  They'll be back in their breeding plumage around September.

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6 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I'm pretty sure only the females have the teardrop eye ring, and all males have stronger white throat markings.  I'll be happy accept alternatives.

Here's what I assume is an immature wood duck from that same day:

image.thumb.jpeg.29e83f8dc79106d20d14a17bdddf5bdf.jpeg

Not sure if the sex can be determined here.

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