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Duck question - probable hybrid v. rare duck

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Old Wednesday 24th January 2007, 13:36   #1
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Duck question - probable hybrid v. rare duck

We all know that there are numerous Mallard hybrids dabbling throughout the U.S. I've seen some fascinating ones. It occurs to me that if by chance one of these fascinating ducks is not in fact a hybrid but a rare (for the US) species of waterfowl from Europe or Asia, I would pass it by without realizing that. Last weekend I saw such a bird. It was beautiful - shiny black all over with a greenish black sheen to its head and neck, a pale yellow Mallard like bill, orange feet and a short curly tail. It was in the company of 3 white domestic geese, dabbling (but not tipping its butt up in the air) on a lake at a local park in east Tennessee. The bill and green head sheen make me think Mallard hybrid. But what on earth did the Mallard mate with to produce such a bird? Domestic Muscovies that you see many of here are the right shiny black color, but where would the green neck have come from? This duck did not resemble a muscovy in any way except for the black color. In other words, the duck was shaped like a Mallard. They often cross breed with American Black Ducks but American Black Ducks are not shiny black like this. If this was not a distinct species of duck, it should have been, it was that stunningly beautiful.

Another one that I saw in late November, also in East Tennessee, was actually with a group of Mallards. It was about the size & shape of a Mallard; was coal black (but not shiny black) except for 2 small white wing bars, white throat and probable white spot at the base of a black bill.

If anyone recognizes either of these ducks from my descriptions, I'd be most grateful.
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Old Wednesday 24th January 2007, 13:42   #2
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There are many more knowledgable duck-lovers on this forum, but (as far as I am aware) any bird with a curly tail has more than a little Mallard in it....

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Old Wednesday 24th January 2007, 14:05   #3
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Its not a hybrid duck as such, its a farmyard duck. The product of thousands of years of interbreeding and genetic experimentation by duck keepers. Just like the feral Rock Doves that have taken over the cities!
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Old Wednesday 24th January 2007, 15:07   #4
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As Frenchy says, it's domesticated breeding that causes these yuck ducks. But if you're ever in doubt, carry along a camera, snap a quick shot, post it on here and we'll help ease your worries.
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Old Wednesday 24th January 2007, 15:17   #5
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What you describe are just some variants of farmyard ducks,or the last one may be a farmyard duck x mallard mix.

If you see a duck with an odd coloration that has the curly tail locks of male mallard ,then you know on the one hand it is a male and on the other hand it is a domestick duck or at least part domestic duck. The wild ancestor of our common domestic duck is the Mallard.

(except for domestic Muscovy ducks, which have the wild Muscovy of central and southern America as ancestor)

but mallard x domestic duck is in fact not really a hybrid - as domestic duck and mallard are the same species...

A problem in Europe and i guess also in North America ,is that domestic ducks are interbreeding with mallards and so swamping the gene pool of the wild mallard population. domestic ducks (and probably also the hybrids) are probably less adapted to survive in a wild environment (hunting pressures by predators, reduced abilities of finding food). But urban reagions sustain high populations of such mixed-up thingies, which there can more successful there than wild mallards, because they are less sensitive to disturbance by humans when breeding,and they are generally relying quite a lot on people who feed if things are going bad, we might loose truly wild mallard populations (If we havn´t already...)

In the area in southern Germany where I live at the moment, about 10% of the Mallard population is blackish-brown birds with a white breast, a dirty grey brown speculum and the head of many such dark males is not as bright green as in wild-type-mallards...

Last edited by Joern Lehmhus : Wednesday 24th January 2007 at 15:26.
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Old Wednesday 24th January 2007, 16:18   #6
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There is a race of domestic ducks which is whole glossy blackish-brown and visibly bigger than Mallard. I think this might fit your bird.
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