During the off-season, I often find myself drawn to any remaining local mallards. Even park mallards. Sure, most of them aren’t migrators or even of pure mallard DNA, but when they fly overhead they sound just like the “real” ducks. And this is a good time of year to listen to those whistling wings and dream.
Which is exactly what I was doing last Sunday afternoon when I happened across the incredibly odd bird pictured below.
What the heck is it? I haven’t the foggiest. It almost looks like a blonde mallard, but blonde drakes are exceedingly rare and the colors don’t seem to fit.
Could it be a hybrid? The bill is almost a pintail blue, and the color of the head plumage also seems a tad pintail-like. However, overall it lacks the characteristics I’d expect to see in a mallard/pintail hybrid. A Brewer’s duck (gadwall/mallard)? Nah, not likely, nor are any of the other common hybrids I can think of.
All I can say for certain is its shaped like a mallard—but certainly not plumed like one—and it’s waddling around with a mallard hen.
Can anyone offer a theory as to the identity of this duck?