The unidentifiables

A white and black duck casually floating by (146_4688)

[you’d never believe how difficult it is to identify some birds; it’s almost as hard as identifying insects… but not quite; suffice it to say I was never able to determine the species of these two waterfowl; it’s possible the darker one is a hybrid (mallard x black?), but I’m guessing at that; the white one could be a white mallard (who’d ever heard of such a thing!), but again I’m guessing; I don’t believe either of those guesses given the size of these birds (at least half again as large as a normal mallard), although I could be wrong; if you have any ideas on what they are, please speak up; what I think I know is that the white one is a female and the dark one is a male]

[Update] I have since identified the white duck as a pekin duck (a.k.a. domestic duck, white pekin duck, or Long Island duck; Anas domesticus).

8 thoughts on “The unidentifiables”

  1. When it comes to ducks, much of it is plumage coloration. Look at this photo for an example of mallard gender colors. Like most species, birds have distinct variations that differentiate male from female (e.g. with insects, females tend to be much larger and more brilliantly painted; with birds, males tend to be larger and more brilliantly painted; with cats, males tend to be larger—and in some cases, like the lion, adorned in a way that differentiates them; and on it goes).

    So, basic biology class aside, there’s one more thing that can indicate the gender of ducks: tail feathers. See the curly little feather on the dark duck’s ass? Drakes (male ducks) often acquire those little wavy decorations as they age; hens (female ducks) do not.

    BTW, I learned that while growing up when we had pet ducks.

  2. When I answered that question, I pondered whether I should leave it at “tail feathers” just to see where it would go. I figured someone would wonder if that meant lifting them to take a peek—but I didn’t think someone would recommend fondling the damn things! Eew. . .

  3. I live in Seattle and I’ve seen a duck like that! It was quite large, as large as a domestic duck, black, but with iridescent green markings like a mallard. It’s neck was longer than a mallard, more like a goose, but it was hanging out with a group of mallards. It seemed kind of friendly and curious. It lived at Greenlake about three years ago. I have no idea what kind of duck it was, I’ve been trying to find out for quite awhile, so if you find out, I’d love to know! 😉

  4. Hi, Viki! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    I’ve been investigating that duck and several others like it who live here at the lake. I’m confident it’s a mallard hybrid of some kind. My first guess is it’s a cross of a domestic mallard (maybe a blue Swedish) and a muscovy duck or a regular mallard.

    That said, I’m still working on pinning down its identity—along with the identities of a wide variety of hybrids here at the lake.

  5. The Pekin duck is a cross breed of some type of mallard from China I do believe. I can’t remember the exacts but that is the around about of it.

    1. Quite right, JD. Wikipedia has some info that sheds light on them. Though I didn’t know two years ago about their history and origin, I’ve since learned where the breed came from. Thanks so much for reminding me!

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