Image: Rick Wright [larger view].
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
Millennia of selective breeding have produced domestic ducks that are meaty, or manageable, or, as in the case of this quiz bird, just goofy.
Mallards have been domesticated for thousands of years, and virtually all of the “strange” waterfowl found on park ponds and tagging along with wild birds are renegade domestic Mallards. Birders occasionally speak incorrectly of these birds as “hybrids.” While it is true that most waterfowl will breed with anything feathered, these strange Mallards are not the result of crosses between species [hybrids] but of careful breeding for particular characters [breeds]. Our quiz bird’s ancestors were obviously selected for size, elegant plumage, and oh yes, that strange puffy crest on the back of the head. In fact, waterfowl breeders sell birds like this as “Crested Mallards” or “Crested Ducks,” and they are as carefully bred to standard as any pug or poodle.
Careful observers will have started at the rear of the bird, and will immediately have noticed the curled “ducktail.” That feature not only identifies the bird to species but to sex: only drake Mallards show those feathers, making it possible to sex even plain white breeds.
And how did this creature make its way to a park pond in urban Tucson? Two words: Easter Monday.
Review all mystery birds to date.