Northern Shoveler Hybrid?

Continuing my failing quest to find a red-throated loon along their Lake Michigan migratory route back up the Arctic, today I visited Harrington Beach State Park (just north of Port Washington). This park is a great place to see waterfowl because it sticks out into Lake Michigan, and the shoreline is not developed.

While at the park I met Calvin Brennan who conducts the waterfowl migratory count. Folks like Calvin are to be complemented for their hard work. Via these kind of bird counts, we are able to over time understand migratory patterns which not only tell us about bird numbers, but speak to climate change and habitat loss. If anyone thinks Calvin has an easy task, try staying outside 6+ hours per day from the beginning of March to the end of May … not exactly the best time of year in terms of weather.

Calvin and I saw lots of migrating ducks, and when I took a break to walk over to Quarry Lake I was pleased to find lots of Northern Shovelers, Buffleheads, and a couple Horned Grebes. The Shovelers landed quite close to where I was standing behind some pine trees, which allowed me to get close-up images. Inspect the first image. It appears the duck in the rear may be a hybrid. Its wing feathers are blue, rather than green as evidenced in the duck in the foreground. The rear bird also has a head which is a slightly different coloration. I’m thinking possibly a cross with a blue winged teal??? However, I am by no means certain.

3 thoughts on “Northern Shoveler Hybrid?

  1. If it’s a hybrid, it’s a distant backcross with a small percent of BW Teal genes.
    Could the color difference be the angle (given that both head and speculum are iridescent)?

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