I rolled down the window and tried to get a picture but the duck had quickly moved out my field of vision. So I slowly got out of car in order not to alarm it. No to worry however, as soon as I stood up the duck paddled toward me and to my great surprise scrambled up the embankment onto the dirt road. He quacked a couple of times and stretched his neck toward me, as if expecting a hand-out. Yet as I approached him he flew back into the water.
I am saying "he" because, despite his apricot pink color and poodle-like top knot, he looked like a male mallard. The bill was the same yellow color, the neck and head an iridescent green and his tail coverts curled up just as in a male mallard.
Here is a close-up
It was pretty obvious to me that he was an escapee, but from where? Nobody in the immediate area that I know of had ducks as pets. Was it a leucistic variant perhaps or an hybrid or a special domestic breed?
I did some research and came up with an article by Charlie in the 10,000 Birds, titled "Manky Mallards" (domestic, feral or just plan odd mallards) It contains many photos of these odd looking ducks which are not hybrids but 100% mallards, the result of selective breeding.
The "crest" gene is a dominant mutation that can be bred into most any duck. It's associated with a deformityy of the skull. The gene is also causing partial infertility.
Quoting from another website on the history: Crested ducks have a wonderful regal air about them. There are reasonably good layers but mostly kept for pets. Crested ducks have been around for a long time and feature in art dating back over 2,000 years.
Well, this morning I checked the pond: The water had frozen over and I was glad to see that the duck did not sit locked in the ice but had been smart enough to take to the air.
Participate in World Bird Wednesday!
Thank you for stopping by. Please leave a comment.