Another duck question…

Hello All… It’s me again! I have another duck question and like my previous post, this would be a lifer, if confirmed.

I caught the duck pictured below today (February 3, 2013) on Devonian Pond, next to Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC, Canada. As you can see, the head is typical for the drake, but the rest of the body is more like a female’s.

My bird books and apps are more or less silent on the subject, but I found photos of Redhead drakes that look like mine on the internet, here and here (the second site’s photos are especially close to mine) and various texts suggest that they do exist. Have any of you ever seen this “version” of the Redhead? Can you confirm that it is indeed an eclipse drake?

Your comments would be more than welcome!

UPDATE: It has been confirmed by a variety of sources that this is indeed a first year male (or hatch-year male/drake) and that he will look like a typical male of the species within the next year or less.

Redhead (Aythya americana) - Eclipse drake???

Redhead (Aythya americana) – Eclipse drake???

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6 responses to “Another duck question…

  1. Gotta be a redhead drake with that head and bill. A little late for eclipse plumage though, I should think? Perhaps a late transition, or maybe a first year male?
    There are a couple of shots here, too, that look like yours:
    http://drewsbirds.blogspot.com/2012/12/lake-davis-ducks-gadwall.html

    • Agreed, this must be a Redhead and a drake, but it is very late to have an eclipse plumage. Your idea of a first year male is quite astute — and its immaturity might very well explain why this rather uncommon bird was the only specimen found on this tiny pond (it had many more interesting choices very close by).

  2. Who can account for teenagers? 😀
    After birding a while, the variations from type and behavioral idiosyncrasies begin to capture one’s attention; when they’re not driving you crazy!
    That really is an interesting looking duck. Nearly all my redhead pics this year are of them in large rafts; I’ll have to have another look and see if I have anything similar.

  3. What a beautifull photo Pierre! Alas my duck skills are minimum, I get lost at the “teenage” years (love that idea Gail! explains my ID uncertainty perfectly). Looking at both your links and some info I would tend to agree with Redheaded drake.

  4. This is a tough query. The bill and head colors are definitely male. My biggest reservation about the bird being an eclipse male is simply the time of year. That being said, I would have to go with Redhead Drake.

    • I have received a fairly detailed comment from a bird expert, who told me that Redheads are notoriously difficult due to their complex molting phases. I guess generalist bird field guides are like books on children: they simply cannot explain everything you need to know! BTW, I will post some sort of update here and on my blog on this subject, so stay tuned!