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sbutk

Edwin B. Forsythe NWR – Black ducks or female Mallards?

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Hello again.  Can anyone suggest which type of duck I’m looking at in these photos?  I know at times this can be a gray area, even for experienced birders.  But I’m hoping I might be able to learn some tell-tale [no pun intended] signs to distinguish the two species.  For reference, all shots were from Forsythe NWR in NJ in late August. Thanks!

 

 

48688485182_23d8f4390f_b.jpgP2230365e by sbutk, on Flickr

 

48688485077_d929b0731d_b.jpgP2240652e by sbutk, on Flickr

 

48687976553_d956a91729_b.jpgP2250024e by sbutk, on Flickr

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Agreed, all Mallards.  Am. Black Ducks have no white in the tail, they don't have as much pale edging on the feathers, and the contrast between the darker body and the head is more obvious.

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4 hours ago, The Bird Nuts said:

You can tell they are eclipse male Mallards by their yellowish bills.  Females have orange to gray bills.

 

Gotcha.  ...This isn't a transition they undergo every year, is it?  (As opposed to just in Year 1).  It never occurred to me that Mallard males would have anything but the striking green heads that many of us are accustomed to.

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1 minute ago, sbutk said:

Gotcha.  ...This isn't a transition they undergo every year, is it?  (As opposed to just in Year 1).  It never occurred to me that Mallard males would have anything but the striking green heads that many of us are accustomed to.

They molt into eclipse (nonbreeding) plumage every summer.  You may not have noticed them before because they blend in with the females.

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9 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

They molt into eclipse (nonbreeding) plumage every summer.  You may not have noticed them before because they blend in with the females.

 

Apparently you hit the nail on the head.  Thanks again for the education.

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