November 21, 2016

A juvenile hybrid dabbling duck

text & photos by ABu

When I was birding the UB Ponds on 15 Sep 2016 a strange looking duck caught my eyes. It was within a small flock of Baikal Teal and somehow resembled them. But the duck also differed from the Baikal Teals in a few points. It was clearly bigger and also longer. The general coloration was paler and it had a kind of diluted Baikal Teal’s face pattern. Its bill was longer and showed much more grey than can be seen on young Baikal Teals, which usually show only a small grey triangular patch on the base of the bill sides. After I had taken the record shots below, the flock slowly swam away to disappear behind the bushes and I could not relocate the ducks, so the two pictures here are all we got.

Back home I checked the photographs on the computer screen. This more or less convinced me that my initial field ID was right (as right as it can be with these hybrids when the parents are not known for sure): Northern Pintail x Baikal Teal. To get the opinion of experts I contacted Osao and Michiaki Ujihara, authors of this book, and they swiftly replied: a juvenile hybrid Northern Pintail x Baikal Teal. Generally this hybrid combination is quite well known and is recorded every now and then, but—according to the Ujiharas—juveniles of this combination have not yet been documented anywhere so far.The only illustration of a female of this hybrid is a painted female in their book. Males are also known because they are much more obvious and hence more often found.

My thanks go to Osao and Michiaki Ujihara for their expertise and to Nial Moores of Birds Korea who draw my attention to this hybrid combination many years ago.

Juvenile hybrid Northern Pintail x Baikal Teal with Baikal Teals
UB Ponds, September 2016. © Andreas Buchheim

Juvenile hybrid Northern Pintail x Baikal Teal with Baikal Teals
UB Ponds, September 2016. © Andreas Buchheim


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