Duck ID question


Sculpin Enterprises
Hi folks,
I was collecting some Cottus (bullheads) for a research project on the Bogachiel River on Monday. While we were there a flock of approximately 25 ducks swam upstream past us. The ducks were apparently feeding on the filamentous green algae on the rocks. The birds were bigger than mallards and kept in VERY tight proximity at all times (closer than I have typically observed in "puddle ducks"). They were not terribly afraid of us and used their wings to assist their movement (like South American steamer ducks). The body coloration was a pretty uniform tan and the group included both blue-billed and yellow-billed individuals. Any assistance with this mystery would be greatly appreciated.


MysteryDucks1.jpg MysteryDucks2.jpg

Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
I'm going to watch the responses on this thread, I sure as heck can't put a name to them. They look like a F2 cross between a pintail/mallard and a canvasback. Interesting.

Rob Ast

Active Member
Upton, I was also thinking a mallard hybrid based on the bill, but it is odd that they are all identical which would argue against this.


Sculpin Enterprises
American Black Duck. The drakes have the yellow bills, the hens have blue/green bills.
Interesting suggestion, but there are two problems with the American Black Duck hypothesis. I am familiar with black ducks from a mispent youth on the east coast and these Bogachiel birds are far too tan for black ducks, even in eclipse plumage. Second, the range of black ducks does not extend to within 1000 miles of the Bogachiel. From Wikipedia "northern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, across Ontario and Quebec as well as the Atlantic Canadian Provinces, including the Great Lakes, and the Adirondacks in the United States." Now, this may have been a vacationing flock visiting all the Twilight sites in Forks, but I doubt that too.

To my eyes, these ducks are bigger than mallards (in the same way that ravens are bigger than crows). And they didn't behave like mallards. Have you ever seen a tight (body to body) group of 25 mallards move upstream in a rapid feeding as they went?

I don't think that we've nailed this down yet and I appreciate any suggestions/speculations/hypothesis that anyone can offer. The mystery deepens....



Active Member
Because of the larger bills I'd call them divers of some sort in eclipse or juvie plumage.
Definitely eclipse birds or juvie birds. Based on the head shape, body profile and how high their tails are off of the water in a relaxed state I'd say puddle ducks. If they were divers the tails would almost be flush with the water's surface in a relaxed state. I am seeing a few mallards in there. My guess is that the bulk of them are widgeon.

No way they are black ducks. Too far west.

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
I agree with potential eclipse birds and puddlers, but it's a tad late for eclipse. Perhaps Mallards crossed with a domestic/wild cross?

Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
Definitely not black or mottled ducks, shot a number of both in Louisiana and Georgia. I think they are an exotic someone had in their yard. The pattern of grouping behavior doesn't match any I've seen in our resident puddle ducks. Very interesting.
Hunt test/training bird escapees? They look like call duck X mallard hybrids to me. Extra birds in the bag on opening morning as they most likely don't count toward your regular limit. 3 mallards, 2 pintails, all the widgeon, and teal you want to shoot. + ?
They for sure are not any common american duck. And usually there is only one hybrid whenever you see a hybrid. Not +20. Very strange to me and i have seen a lot of different ducks and hunted a lot of different ducks. My guess is that they are from a different country or from a farm. and like you said to be bigger then mallards when some have bluebills but no other markings besides brown. Farm birds for sure or some other country. Defiantly not bluebills,mallards, pintails, wigeon, or black ducks.