Mar 28 2015
What duck is this?
Photographed by Tom Moeller on March 25 at Duck Hollow in Pittsburgh, this odd duck defies a single label. Apparently one of his parents was a redhead, the other a ring-necked duck.
Here are the two species he resembles: male redhead on the left, male ring-necked duck on the right.
He has the head color, eye color and shoulder of a redhead and the head shape, bill color and body color (except for his non-white shoulder) of a ring-necked duck.
Depending on the light and the distance you might see a feature of either species and call him accordingly. David Poortinga figured him out and told Tom what it was.
Here’s another look him. He’s a redhead with a fancy bill and black back. Or he’s a ring-necked duck with a red head.
Ducks and geese hybridize a lot compared to other birds. Duck hunters see these hybrids up close because they have the bird in hand so Ducks Unlimited explains:
“Waterfowl crossbreed more often than any other family of birds. Scientists have recorded more than 400 hybrid combinations among waterfowl species. Mallards crossbreed with nearly 50 other species, and wood ducks hybridize with a surprising 26 other species. Nearly 20 percent of waterfowl hybrid offspring are capable of reproducing.”
Mallards being the least picky, or the perhaps most promiscuous, breed with many species. According to Ducks Unlimited their mates include northern pintails, black ducks, wigeon, shovelers, cinnamon teal, green-winged teal, and gadwalls. Perhaps every dabbling duck is a mallard at heart.
Will the Odd Duck attract a mate this spring ? If so, will she be a redhead or a ring-necked duck? What will his offspring look like?
Yikes! Talk about mixed parentage!
p.s. As of yesterday, March 27, the hybrid was still at Duck Hollow.