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Tufted duck hybrid (Nov 15, 2020, Netherlands) (1 Viewer)


Frank van de Velde
Last sunday (Nov 15, 2020) I saw this Tufted duck female in the Twiske (lake near Amsterdam). It caught my eye because of its heavy build.

It was much more stocky than the many other Tufted Ducks in the vicinity. Also it was swimming solo across the lake, whereas other Tufted Ducks were sticking close together near the banks.

Is it a Tufted Duck female after all (its seemingly divergent build an effect of angle and light)? Or is it a hybrid, and if it is, what kind (maybe TD x Common Pochard)?


(I also posted this question in Dutch on https://forum.waarneming.nl/index.php/topic,475963.0.html)


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Alexander Stöhr

Well-known member
First impression was: its a Greater Scaup, but something seems not right. Bill colour with dark nail and paler band to tip is within variation.
Reason for this strange feeling? Dont know. Maybe its the pictures with much artefact/sharpening effects or it is indeed an hybrid.
A pure Tufted Duck can be ruled out imo, but I must admit its just a jizz feeling. Bill seems so large in relation to head and body.

If this bird is indeed a Greater Scaup would explain the impression you got from this bird. A well
nourished Scaup is a just discernable bigger, plumper, round-bodied duck among Tufted Ducks.

On first sight, this bird seems to develop the right pale ear-covert patch of a Scaup (beeing a 1 cy bird?), but on second look I am not sure, that this isnt a picture artefact or a pattern within variation for a Tufted Duck.
So I leave this feature out in saying that this seems a Greater Scaup (or an hybrid) to me.

Conclusion: I would be happy to be corrected and learn!

Edit: looking at the pictures again, bill seems on the small side for a Scaup, but clearly within variation for this species. Hence the strange feeling?
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Frank van de Velde
Hello Alexander,

Once again, thank you for helping here!

Lakeside I initially also thought Greater Scaup briefly, but then dismissed it right away because complete lack of white around the bill. I didn't think of a juvenile!

A hint of a very slight pale spot behind the 'cheek' is indeed visible. It occurs in all but one of the images, so it seems to be real. (Another photo attached, unfortunately I deleted the original raw image, so it's very grainy). But it would only be the low part of an ear-covert. So I agree, it it's a controversial characteristic.

Browsing for juvenile Greater Scaup images I see some that seem to match 'my' bird quite well.



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Stop Brexit!
Looks like a Tufty x Pochard to me - this hybrid is probably the commonest hybrid duck of any, particularly in recent years with the collapse in numbers of female Pochards forcing the males to look elsewhere for some fun. They can look strikingly Scaup-like on a casual view.

Alexander Stöhr

Well-known member
After looking again, I think Nutcracker might be right. Reason for dismissing a TuftedXPochard hybrid was the "pure" yellow eye-colur of this bird. The Tufted Duck x Pochards I have seen (in the field and on pictures) had a orange or brownish colour. But: reason for this seems lack of personal experience, so better to learn ?

Good for this hybrid combination seems the appearent shape of the black nail, reaching diagonal towards the bill like in Pochard. I only noticed this after reading Nutcrackers helpfull comment (but I am still not convinced, this can be judged with certainty here). Thank you Nutcracker!
I have seen a female Tufted Duck with a slightly warmer/darker brown (but still predominantly yellow) eye and a similar diagonal shaped black tip some years ago at a lake in Mannheim/SW-Germany. I will post some pictures of this later.
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