Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Adolescent Mallards - An Awkward Phase

The many young mallards spending time on the river by Ames Park these days are undergoing "the change." Look at the young males, above, who are beginning to get the handsome green heads, lighter body feathers, and well-defined tails of the male in the center of the photo, but are in an awkwardly transitional stage. They look rather like a female in the middle but like a male at bow and stern.

At the rear of this larger group of mallards and Canada geese you can see the mystery duck I wrote about the other day (Odd Duck - Help Identify!). I still haven't had anyone weigh in with an opinion of this dark brown, mallard-sized duck hanging out with a bunch of juvenile mallards. Is it a genetic fluke? Is it a mallard x pintail cross? Or something else? I wish I knew. None of the photos I've found of mallard x pintail crosses look much like this duck, but I don't know what besides a pintail has that dark brown coloring. Of course, this duck is quite possibly undergoing its own adolescent transition, and may look rather different in a few days or weeks.

Here's a closer view of the mystery duck again.

And what could be cuter than a little red-haired girl watching and probably feeding, or hoping to feed, or wishing she could feed, the ducks? Perhaps it would be a whole family of little red-haired children doing the same, which indeed there was, but they didn't all fit into my photo.
Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

Rob Hardy said...

The little crescent of white around the beak looks like a bit like blue-winged teal.

There is nothing cuter than a little red-headed girl. I wanted one, but I guess genetics were against it.