Hybrid Mallards?

MallArd_hybrid_1

There are four photos in the full post.

A few weeks ago we noticed these three ducks all hanging out together that looked a bit like mallards but they were darker in spots and the coloration was just not typical of a mallard. In addition,one guy had some strange poofy feathers on his head. They were also much larger, almost goose size, compared to the typical mallard.

Melanistic_mallard_7

At first I thought they might be melanistic mallards, expressing excess feather pigmentation. However after reading more on melanistic animals I think they are probably some type of mallard hybrids. When we first saw these guys they seemed out of their element in the local pond. All three hung out very close together the whole time we observed them even dabbling in unison for food. Perhaps another case of pet ducks released into the wild just like our encounters with the Pekin and Mandarin ducks in the past.

Melanistic_mallards_3

If anyone can shed some light as to the exact origins of these hybrids it is welcome. Until then they remain a bit of a mystery to me.

Hybrid_mallard_9

45 thoughts on “Hybrid Mallards?

    1. Hi, definitely some mallard there but what else remains quite a mystery to me. Maybe some special breeds used in duck shows if there is such a thing as a duck show. Hope you are having a great day.

  1. What a fashionable group of mutt ducks. Seems like I read that mallards are particularly prone to producing hybrids. As are scaups, which may or may not be a part of these floating fashion fluffs. I particularly like the last photo- reminds me of most photos of the loch ness and yeti.

    1. Hi Laurel, I have heard that as well. The last photo is actually the first one we snapped of these guys. We were looking out the car window and all three of these strange looking ducks were out of water looking at us with a confused look I think the car was still moving when the shot was taken. We did a double take since they were goose sized but looked like mallards. Hope you are having a great day.

  2. swedenole13

    Whatever they are, in their own right, they are beautiful and obviously enjoying life! As it should be! I do like the little poofy hairdo though! 😉

    1. Thanks, looks like maybe a bit of blue or black Swedish is in the mix as well. These guys appear to be another case of domestic ducks returned to the wild. Hope they are not used to getting all their chow from a feeder.

  3. Interesting as I wonder if they are additional generations that the hybridization (is that a word?) has affected, as we have quite a group here of hybrid Mallards ranging in color from black and white, to mottled brown/white, most still have distinctive tail curl. Additionally, it is my understanding they will mate with anything that will sit still long enough so unless DNA testing is in the works, it may be very difficult to ascertain the exact species. hahahaa 🙂 Excellent pictures and topic! Love it!

    1. Hi and thanks for the thoughtful comment. I think it probably required several generations of cross breeding for specific traits that made those guys what they are. It will be interesting if they make this pond their home and if they end up breeding with some of the other ducks on this pond in the spring.

      Thaks again for taking the time to give your thoughts as we appreciate it an shave a great day.

    1. Hi and thanks for the thoughts. After a bit of research it appears that the poof is bred into these ducks as someone somewhere found the poof desirable. Crazy but it appears true. Furthermore these poofy ducks are shown at duck shows.

  4. Just saw this post now (more than a month after you first posted!)–can I add my two cents? We have both Cayugas and Welsh Harlequins so I have some experience with those domestic breeds. Looking at the ducks in the pic and seeing that you photographed them in the wild, I would definitely say they are a combination of domestic breeds that someone released which then possibly mated with a mallard but not necessarily. I don’t see any Welshie in there–Cayuga, possibly, and the tuft is a genetic feature of the White Tufteds but also shows up in these wild/domestic hybrids. And, btw, the domestic birds are generally larger than wild mallards except for special breeds such as the Call. If you’re really interested, I recommend Dave Holderread’s book, “Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks” for a good overview of domestic breeds. PS, Happy New Year!

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