A few white domestic Pekin Ducks, a lone Mallard drake, and a bunch of hybrid mixes (likely Muscovy and Pekin or Mallard and Pekin) were all happily strolling around the peaceful shoreline of the pond end of Lake Miramar at the Veteran’s Park in The Villages, Florida, near Spanish Springs Square.
I spotted the ducks late in the afternoon this past Sunday. Several ducks were resting under the Rhododendron bushes. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger version. Enjoy!
These hybrid ducks are genuinely attractive birds. Some are obviously a mix between the Florida Mottled Ducks, and the white Pekin Ducks. Others may have a bit of Muscovy or even Wood Duck within their attractive genes. I took these pictures at a small park lake in The Villages, Florida very close to the Spanish Springs Square shopping and entertaining area. Please click on the thumbnail image to see a slightly larger version of that photo. As ever, enjoy!
At first look from a distance, I thought these ducks were Florida Mottled Ducks, a very close cousin to the Mallard Duck. No, they are Mallard Ducks. Mallards usually do not migrate here to Florida in the Summer. These are probably offspring of farm pond escapees. It is illegal here in Florida to release Mallards into the wild without proper permits to do so.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission is very concerned about the hybridization between the native Florida Mottled Ducks and the Mallards, which may eventually lead to the near extinction or complete extinction of the native ducks. I took these pictures on Friday, August 8, 2014 here in my development. By the way, I went by this pond yesterday, and the ducks were not there. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger pictures.
This hen is a Mottled Duck and the drake is a hybrid cross between a Mallard Duck and a Mottled Duck. The intermixing between the Mottled and Mallard Ducks is pretty commonly seen. These are dabbling ducks. They tip their heads down into the shallow water to find pond weeds, and grains. These ducks also occasionally eat insects.
I photographed this same pair of ducks at both the large rainfall retention pond near the health club here, and the smaller golf course pond near one of our main streets in this development.. I scout both of these ponds on a regular basis to spot wildfowl and wading birds. It rained a lot on Friday night and Saturday so the ponds were full. I took these pictures on March 26, 2014, and again on March 29, 2014. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
A Mottled Duck drake and what is probably a hybrid Mottled Duck and Mallard Duck hen was visiting the large rainfall retention basin pond here near our development yesterday at twilight. This is the same shallow water, temporary pond where I had seen the Hooded Mergansers several weeks ago.
The Mottled Ducks are similar to their cousins, the Mallards. They are dabbling ducks and eat insects, small aquatic animals, and aquatic plants. The drake Mottled Duck has a yellow bill. The female Mottled Duck should also have a yellow or yellow-green bill. The likely hybrid here had a dark bill that looks quite similar to that of a Mallard hen. The Mottled Ducks mostly live in marshes here in the South, with many of these ducks living along the Gulf of Mexico. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
My mystery of yesterday about the unusual ducks has been solved. I now believe that there is a small number of hybrid ducks here on the lake right now. I saw the first two last night. This morning after I had posted my blog entry for that day, I saw three hybrid ducks in the lake at the same spot as I had seen that brown and white duck yesterday afternoon. The ducks all seem very different. One looks very closely like a Mallard cross with maybe a Teal. It may be possible that the other two ducks also had a Mallard parent but have a Pochard Duck parent as well such as a Canvasback or a Red-Head. Who knows? The three were happily browsing the plants in the lake and diving in very shallow water of about 2 feet deep. It is only the first group of hybrid ducks I have seen here. I have seen one hybrid here and there but never a small group. This is a transition time of the season here with many waterfowl and birds just passing through on their migration elsewhere. By the way, I wonder if the black and white duck in these pictures is the same hybrid duck that had been here this past Spring? Also, if you look carefully, the duck with white or cream colored body has a head that has brown or chestnut coloring on one side only and white or cream coloring on the other half, almost equally divided. Please click on the thumbnail version to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Ducks Do Dive!