Ornithologi

A studio for bird study

Tag: duck

American x Eurasian Wigeon Hybrid

by Bryce W. Robinson

 

The phenotypic expression that results from hybridization is fascinating, especially in colorful birds such as the male ducks. One duck hybridization I enjoy is the American x Eurasian Wigeon. The subtle combination between the traits of the two species is pleasing to the eye, but also presents a fun and satisfying ID challenge.

I found a drake American x Eurasian Wigeon the other day in a large group of American Wigeon feeding on a grass field at a large sports park in Boise, ID. The winter group that frequents this field every year generally holds a drake Eurasian Wigeon. This year no Eurasian, but a hybrid.

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Note the retention of the American Wigeon head pattern. The Eurasian has a beautiful red-orange head with a golden fore-crown. The neck and auriculars do not differ in color than the superciliary and hind-neck as in the American. This hybrid holds the American pattern, but with strong Eurasian coloring throughout the head. The other most obvious quality on this bird is the gray flanks unlike the American Wigeon which have rufous flanks. Thus, the combination of American head pattern with reddish hints and the gray flanks are enough to confidently call this bird an American x Eurasian Hybrid.

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Eurasian Wigeon sure show up regularly each winter in N. America. I’d love to know if the regularity of Eurasian in N. America mirrors the regularity of American in Asia. It’s fun to wonder, but with the growing popularity of eBird, answering these types of questions are beginning to seem more and more possible.

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Gadwall and a Dabbler Interaction

by Bryce W. Robinson

 

The other day I filmed a pair of Gadwall, and captured something interesting. The inter-specific interaction in this video is exciting (to me) and enlightening. Mallards are a larger Anas sp., and I assume they are more aggressive. Observing the Gadwall pair retreat in caution from the Mallard pair displays a “pecking” order between species. With birds such as waterfowl  that form massive multi-species flocks, it would be interesting to observe what other interactions portray the bullies and the submissive of the duck world.

The Muddy Ruddy

by Bryce W. Robinson

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The Ruddy Duck is a unique character in appearance. They are not all too uncommon in areas I frequent lately, but I always enjoy finding them and watching their behaviors. The Ruddy duck dives for its food. It digs through the mud on the bottom of the freshwaters, returning to the surface after a successful mudding, to look about, swim some distance, and dive again. The fun of  the divers is to see a submersion and watch for the bird to reappear.

I was watching a Ruddy, about its business, in a freshwater estuary of the highly saline Great Salt Lake. As it dove and resurfaced, I began noticing that each time the bird came up, its broad bill was soiled with silt from where it had been feeding. The mud added to an aesthetic I enjoy immensely among diving waterfowl. So often, they resurface with beads of water across their back, and semi-saturated feathers on their face and crown. Their breast often appears glossy. Watching closely always rewards me with a detailed view of textures and details overlooked from quick glances or distant views.

Birding is rewarding on so many levels. I can’t help but respect it all.