Earlier today I posted a little ID puzzle for you as part of 30 Days Wild. Namely, what is this odd duck?
Regular readers may have had a clue, if they recalled a post from May on birds around Heslington Lake. In there, I mentioned a male mallard and female pochard, with some ducklings, that were hanging around together.
Among the big differences from mallards you can see here are the slate grey bill and black feet,in addition to the dark plumage and white breast. While there are other ducks that have that dark bill/feet, there’s only a pochard I’ve seen in this location.
But there is still an oddity here. The male I saw was a ‘classic’ mallard. But the plumage here is more like that of the Bibbed Mallard or Cayuga, domestic breeds of the same species. So what’s going on there?
A few possibilities. There are plenty of domestic duck breeds around the lake, including bibbed cayuga. So we could be dealing with some recessive genes getting expressed in the mix. Alternatively, as duck mating can get a little frenetic and confused, it could be the mallard following the pochard and her ducklings around wasn’t actually the father!
Whatever the answer to that one, this is two interesting hybrids in two years, following on from the goose.