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February 15, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Hybrid American Black Duck

The American Black Duck is found in the eastern portion of North America and often flocks with the more common Mallard Duck. They are similar in size and shape to the Mallard but are shy ducks and usually stay away from people. While they are not endangered, their numbers have been declining. Habitat loss, over-hunting and possibly hybridization have contributed to the decline, and a hybrid duck’s offspring are often unable to reproduce.

American Black Duck on the DuPage River

American Black Duck

From a distance this looked like just another American Black Duck swimming along the river, but with a closer look through the binoculars, I could see it had a bright green patch on the head. It was a Mallard-Black Duck hybrid.

Hybrid American Black Duck

The silhouettes of the two ducks species are the similar, but up close there is a noticeable difference in their coloration.

A pure-bred Black Duck will be mostly dark brown and black overall with paler tan face and a yellow bill. Male and female Black Ducks look similar. Mallard males and females look different. The males have a bright green head and yellow bill, and females are a lighter brown overall with an orange bill.

Male and Female Mallard Duck

Mr and Mrs Mallard

The Mallard is extremely adaptable and tends to hybridize more than any other duck. At one time it was believed that hybridization was voluntary among the flocks but recent research suggests that Black Duck females do not pair up with Mallard males and that the hens are not willing mates.


Saturday Snapshot was originated by Alyce at At Home With Books. It is now hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Sheila (Book Journey) / Feb 15 2014 10:59 am

    Interesting facts about Mallards!


  2. Arti / Feb 15 2014 11:16 am

    We have lots of Mallards but it’s the first time I’m introduced to a hybrid. So they can be found only in the Eastern coast? So I have no chance of seeing them here then.


    • Leslie / Feb 15 2014 11:36 am

      You won’t see Black Ducks, they are eastern birds, but you’ll definitely see Mallard Hybrids of one type or another. The males are promiscuous little devils.


  3. laurelrainsnow / Feb 15 2014 12:07 pm

    I do love ducks! They are gorgeous, but they also remind me of seasonal things, like fall and winter. And stories I read as a child. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Sandra Nachlinger / Feb 15 2014 1:21 pm

    Beautiful photos. Thanks for the education about Black Ducks too.
    I’m participating in Snapshot Saturday for the first time today and thoroughly enjoying all the photos.


  5. Louise / Feb 15 2014 5:38 pm

    Interesting post, and great photos as always Leslie. Mallards seem keen to take over the world… I still remember a line from that DUCKumentary I watched a few weeks ago- that ducks were one of the few birds to suffer forced copulations.


  6. Anne / Feb 15 2014 6:17 pm

    I know I am so boring because I say the same thing every time. You are such a talented photographer. Thanks for sharing.


  7. BermudaOnion / Feb 15 2014 7:13 pm

    I never knew ducks hybridized. How interesting!


  8. Beth F / Feb 16 2014 5:23 am

    Interesting. I didn’t know about the hybrids either.


  9. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Feb 16 2014 8:42 am

    We have loads of these here, but I really enjoyed all the interesting info. thanks


  10. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) / Feb 16 2014 10:40 am

    I would have just assumed it was a mallard because of the green on the head – that’s cool!


  11. Suko / Feb 16 2014 10:17 pm

    You not only capture the ducks beautifully, but the water is very impressive as well, shimmering and reflective and simply incredible. Gorgeous!


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