Monday, January 21, 2013

Odd duck

Once I realized I had never put him in the blog, I had to post this superbly unique duck that might have you scratching your head for a minute or two. As far as I know 2009 was the first time it was seen in Stratford, and it has come back to visit us each and every winter season. It frequents Raven Park Pond and has been seen once in a while at Wooster Park Pond. This guy is a favored sight and, considering his looks, one has to presume it is the same bird every time. Do you know what he is?

Don't spend too much time flipping through a field guide! What if I told you this was a hybrid, does that help? He was moving about quickly on the dark day I took the photo so you can't quite see the dark long tail which would shed some light on the answer. It's actually...a Mallard and Northern Pintail hybrid. He's a really stunning bird to see up close, and if you are in the Stratford area or wanting to tick off birds for the new year, stop by at one of those locations and try to add this uncountable bird to your list anyways. He tends to hang out with a lot of Mallards, but there are occasionally a Northern Pintail or two that can be found at Raven Park Pond as well.

I wonder if he has been successfully breeding or not over the last several seasons, and if so, which species of female he has found to mate with. I also wonder where he ends up - if he moves far to the north to the Northern Pintail nesting range or stays somewhere within the Mallard range that is closer to his wintering grounds here. I would guess he would go into Pintail range because I would presume his parents met within it, a Mallard being in this more northern parts of their nesting areas. Here's to many more years of him coming back to us.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Photo by Scott Kruitbosch © Connecticut Audubon Society and not to be reproduced without explicit CAS permission

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