Date: 1/7/21 5:07 pm
From: Avery Fish <afish.mtb...>
Subject: [VTBIRD] A Duck Question
This has so far been a good winter for ducks in VT! With the continuing
trio in Addison, and the astounding number of ducks on the lake, I am
hopeful for a few more species to make an appearance in VT this winter.
This has been my first year of serious solo birding, and though COVID has
certainly stopped some of my hopes, I have been kept busy by the species in
our state! Over the past couple months, I have seen several ducks,
seemingly female mallards, that looked a little different than the others.
This morning, on my fruitless search for Redheads on the lake, I saw
another one of these birds in a small group of Mallards and Black Ducks,
including one Mallard x Black Duck hybrid that has been seen in the area.

The bird at first glance looks like just another female mallard, but the
thing that always draws my attention is the bill. I have seen many female
mallards with large black saddles on their bill, with only hints of orange
around the edges, but the ducks in question have had all dark bills. The
bill is dark and grayish, like the bill of a Gadwall. The other thing that
is noticeable to me is the overall coloration. The birds have been much
grayer than the other ducks, lacking the warm, buffy orange coloration. It
certainly wasn’t as dark as the lighter black ducks around though. This one
was closely following a male mallard, acting like a pair. If I am
remembering correctly, the ducks have all had the white tail, including
this one. The only photos I have of these birds are digiscoped and heavily
cropped photos from today in overcast lighting in the morning, but you can
see the dark bill and grayer coloration.

If anyone has any thoughts, I would greatly appreciate them! Stay safe and
happy birding!

~Avery Fish
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