Marvil Comics’ “X” Duck

The bones are starting to creak and the nose is turning red, we must be headed into the tundra we call home. We made our final stop in Marion, AR yesterday to perform the RV winterization ritual in the closing hours before we officially hit sub-freezing temps. Asked Linda several times during this process if she wanted to turn back and flee south again…with great agony so reminded me we have important appointments awaiting us throughout February, sigh. On the good news front, I can update you on my Average Year efforts. With a few days still left in this month I’ve clocked in 173 unique birds for the young year (Ron at healthy 152). Quite stunned by that and can be directly attributed to how wonderful birding is in Texas. I’ll be turning my err… Linda’s sights on getting the Snowy Owl (link here) immediately upon our return.

Right now I have to focus on hitting my self-imposed post quota for this month. Once again, I’ve overestimated the amount of free time available on our vacation. Amazing how we manage to fill up an entire month with activities (read birding sunrise to sundown). Was able to get five out there during the longer drives leaving me with today’s featured feathered friend for the win.

Redhead Duck found at South Padre Bird Viewing Center in December 2017

Okay birders, without hitting the jump, want to take a guess on what this duck is?

Hit the jump for further clues.

Maybe you need some additional meta data to help narrow your options. Our interestingly colored creature was photographed at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. Wait, scratch that, they have officially changed their name to South Padre Island Birding, Nature Center and Alligator Sanctuary (SPIBNC&AS). There is a Monty Python sketch in there for sure .. & Great Blue Heron Vacation Spot & Dancing Ibis Show & Clapper Rail Hunting & Turtle Spa &… you get the skit premise. I digress. Although these shots were taken back in December 2017, I can confirm from my trip back there this month that this duck (or at least its species) are still abundant in their open waters. I understand if you are having problems pinpointing that species, so here is another clue.

Redhead Duck found at South Padre Bird Viewing Center in December 2017

This is the same species as the more colorful one in the lead in. Same overall coloring with the exception of the white splotches. Same gender as well! Admittedly, that is still a bit devious. It is generally pretty hard to identify a duck from just the female specimens. There are feature characteristics that make some females easier to spot – Wood Duck (link here) comes to mind with their unique head profile and wide white eye-ring. More common is the hard to distinguish brown drab feathering.

Redhead Duck found at South Padre Bird Viewing Center in December 2017

There is a clue if you look closely at the bill. Both specimens possess the faint ring around the end of the bill and the lighter outline around the base that looks like someone used too much glue to attach that nose. If you saw that and guessed Ring-Necked Duck (link here) you deserve some credit… but, unfortunately, wrong. Ha, just noticed the R-ND link brings you to a post bitching about the same naming issues pointed out in the previous post – obviously something that sticks in my craw). I digress again… must be the cold weather. Okay, time for the reveal.

Redhead Duck found at South Padre Bird Viewing Center in December 2017

If you originally guessed a Redhead Duck then please send me your cell number so I can put it on my speed dial for the next time I need identification help – you are a birding rock star. Out of context I would have really struggled with that first shot. Fortunately, one of my golden rules is to always take “associated” birds – especially when it comes to females. As a generalization, drakes follow the old hair band cliche where the males put the makeup on to impress the ladies. The golden rule reminds me to be sure and snap anything hanging around a target bird to help in the identification process. In this case the easily identified male Redhead was floating not too far away.

Redhead Duck found at South Padre Bird Viewing Center in December 2017

Thankfully there was also another “normally” colored female tagging along with the splotchy specimen at the top of the page or I would have been repeatedly beating the reference book against my head. Pretty confident of the ID, I went exploring to see if the extra white feathering was a juvenile, a normal breeding molt or some kind of toxic sewage coming out of the water treatment facility that sits next door.

Redhead Duck found at South Padre Bird Viewing Center in December 2017

From what I found, this is not frequent and considered more of a mutation – toxic sewage theory wins ha! Big thanks to Cornell’s hybrid and mutation education page for helping to nail this down (link herehttps://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/domducks.htm). Near the bottom you will see a discussion on this very mutation along with a very helpful picture from a specimen found in New York.

Well folks, going to call it a post and get back to a heated “debate” with my wife – “Now tell me again what appointment I have that is worth freezing my ass off for!?!”

Hope you enjoyed today’s Mutant X Duck.

29 thoughts on “Marvil Comics’ “X” Duck”

  1. Oops, the link to the Cornell hybrid page is broken. So… you are thinking this is a partially Leucistic duck? Very cool. Good strategy to photograph all the birds nearby – that tip has helped me in many identification quandaries.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for pointing out the bad link – I have fixed it. Yes, based on that reading, it is partial albinism or as it has some pigments and no pink eye, my take is the partial leucistic front. As it normally already has dull colors it doesn’t look as dramatic as the other leucistic specimens I have come in contact with. Odd to me that can happen partially although when it gets down to genes/DNA specifics my expertise takes a major backseat. Appreciate you coming by Sam and glad you have the same golden rule!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Welcome home! Shoulda stayed South.
      I see you also ran into the Ministry of ALA (Abnormally Long Acronyms) again.
      I was going to guess juvenile from the first photo knowing how many times I’ve been fooled by birds in my woods.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I DEFINITELY should have stayed south – looks like 8–12 inches of snow for us – guessing you might be in the 12-18 inches range. When the ALA becomes a sentence, I throw my hands in the air ha. The Juvi is an acceptable guess as there are so many issues with them (gulls and sparrows just throw in the towel). Thanks for coming by and I though you were supposed to turn the heat on before we got back!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As you mutate from moderate coastal temps to subfreezing fun, you got some interesting mutations on your red redheaded ducks. The redheads I see up here are pretty much the run of the mill redheads. No “mutant blues”† up here.

    †”Mutant Blue Chinchillas” Firesign Theater. Remember them?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I saw what you did there hehehe! Okay, I am declaring you win the Internet today on that obscure Firesign reference. I had to go look that one up and listen to that skit (hilarious). That troupe came out a year before I was born and didn’t make it on my radar. Python (as you know from my posts), Benny Hill (my favorite) and Second City were more in my scope. Thanks for coming by Timothy and especially for the laugh as I sit shivering looking out the window at snow.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Benny Hill is one of my favorites, also. Have you seen Bottom? A mucus humor British duo? They are really out there and really funny. I love Monty Python, also. I was introduced to Firesign Theater by musicians I jammed with in the 70s when I was a teenager. Those guys were 10 years older than me. I used to listen to George Carlin and Cheech and Chong back then, as well. So much good politically incorrect humor back in those days.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I just watched a demolition episode. It’s pretty our there. You have a lot of excellent photos of dragonflies, dragster, birds and butterflies.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Wow, I didn’t place the name so I watched the Bottoms per Timothy’s recommendation – couldn’t place where I saw the the one with the long blonde hair. Then I saw this comment on the Young Ones and sure enough, I’ve seen a ton of those shows (including Bambi). Vivian and Neil immediately triggered the memory. The What We Do in the Shadows shows have that similar feel. Thanks for the recommendation!!

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Those guys are hilarious just watch an hour+ of their best skits on youtube – never heard of them before. My brothers are 9 and 10 years older than me so I got a good amount of Carlin growing up (didn’t get all the jokes until I got a little older) – also why my musical taste was bedrocked in the late 60’s and 70’s thanks to my brother’s 8 tracks I used to borrow.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Bad old memories of 8 track tapes. I had an 8 Track tape recorder in my teen years. I used to record compilation tapes of my favorite songs to listen to in the car (I bought my first car when I was 15). Since the tapes got eaten by the car’s tape player quite often, I made master compilations on my reel-to-reel deck so it was easy to record a new 8 track tape after one got eaten. That way I kept the music playing. My mom liked rock and roll, therefore, besides listening to my older brother’s music, my mom was buying the Beatles and other 60’s rock when I was a pre-teen. I started working odd jobs when I was 11 then a real job when I was 15, so I was able to buy my own music pretty early on.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. You have me a few years on me in the music scene. I actually had a converter so I could play cassettes in my 8 track player -god those two mediums sucked! I always think of the kaachunk sound when it wen to the next track, actually more like the next range of the tape vs a track. I didn’t start officially working until my 16th year, but I mowed a crap load of lawns for 15-20 bucks a pop before then. Every once in a while I’d go crazy and not put it into the college fund and pick me up a new album from a band – eventually got to college and they had a Rentertainment (got shut down by the feds while I was there). Rent a CD for a buck, come back to dorm, rip it to cassette, return the disk..let’s just say my roommates and I had and incredible music collection (backed up with Columbia House subscriptions we’d rotate our memberships in for the 15 CDs for a cent). Always caught the bands as they came through our local concert venue (read college dive bar).

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You were at a significant disadvantage here for sure. Heinz was actually my first guess, but then went hunting when I saw the nearby Redhead drake. Trying to keep warm, but the white powdery stuff will be coming down hard tomorrow – a welcome back to the tundra if you will ha! Thanks for coming by — although you cost me a ton of time watching the best of the Bottoms on youtube – those two are hilarious – very much in the Benny Hill vein.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting post! I am not a bird-watcher, but I do like observing wildlife in general. The different plumage of genders, and juveniles is highly confusing unless you can observe the whole group, which you explained in this informative post. πŸ™‚ Stay warm. Brian, It won’t be too much longer till spring!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Cheryl. I kind of feel sorry for Texas as apparently we dragged the cold down with us and it decided to stay. Got a report from our friends there that they will have a high of 29 and a low to 17 in the Houston/Dallas regions. Now that we are back in the Midwest it has decided to greet us with 8 to 12 inches (probably more) tomorrow. Pretty sure I saw Linda packing her bags again hehehe. Appreciate you coming by.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Sherry. To be honest, the only reason I was able to get any posts out is Linda was willing to drive for long distances at a time while I banged on the keyboard. We’ve been down there several times now so she can handle most of the navigation from memory – she still gets a little testy around Houston ha! Appreciate you dropping in – that was some interesting artwork in your last post.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hummm… for a heated debate you must move in closer so you can stay toasty warm as you move North. Linda will think you are REALLY listening to her.πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ When in fact you are drafting off the heated air.
    Keep this fingers from getting frostbite we need more educational birding posts.😊πŸ₯Ά

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hehehehe, great idea – a warm ride and Linda is conned into thinking I’m listening – two-fer! Had to get the fingers cold shoveling all the snow that had accumulated while we were gone – sure not used to having to put on gloves again – I think the coast is calling us back… yep, I can hear it all the way from here. I think primarily we miss being in a state that has NO covid restrictions F R E E D O M! Appreciate you dropping in CJ, hope all is going well for you and they hubby across the pond.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I guessed female Redhead. πŸ™‚ We get lots of migrant ducks during the winter around the Chesapeake Bay/mid-Atlantic, so I’ve had easy learning for the most part. Now if I could just get the gulls figured out, they drive me crazy. πŸ₯΄

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well done Donna! Gulls and Terns drive me absolutely crazy (more on the Gulls front). We took a ton of picture of ’em while on the coast – see one, take a few pictures – move on. Now comes the hard part trying to figure them all out – thankfully I have the Gulls Simplified book which is a big help on that front. If it’s a juvi I just throw in the towel, not worth my time splitting those hairs (err, feathers). Appreciate you coming by Donna.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Wait, I think you left some cold weather behind, you need to take it with you, WAIT,,,,,,:) it is going to be in the low 20’s next weekend here in TX. I can’t believe you did not take it all with you. This is a new bird to me and very pretty I might add. There are so many different variety’s of ducks. I saw my first Northern Shoveler duck this year, that is a very colorful duck. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Saw your comment and we went and checked the weather in Texas again – all I can say is sorry!! If it is any consolation, we are going to get dumped hard with the white stuff tomorrow – we can try to get some of that down to you if you want ha! Congrats on your first Shoveler – you will be seeing them ALL the time now – just realized that is the perfect duck to represent while I’ll be doing tomorrow night hehehe. Take care Sandra.

      Liked by 1 person

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