grey duck

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
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Adam C
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Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 8:58 am

Re: grey duck

Postby Adam C » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:41 pm

Its obviously so ambiguous I think it has to come down to what each birder (for their own list etc) classes as a Grey Duck. For me I think Im not going to be writing 'Grey Duck' on my life list until Iv'e seen one with grey brown feet, all of the head features and the green wing badge. I think for your own birding purposes everyone has to decide what counts by their standards. From an 'official' point of view however, or for trying to decide just how endangered pure Greys are I guess it is very important we work it out, which is why I appreciate how much info, insight and experience somebody like Andrew C puts in.
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

Samuel Ullman
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Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: grey duck

Postby Jim_j » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:15 pm

I tend to agree.
If your prime purpose is ticking off a list of species seen, then as long as your observations match those recognised in field guides etc and pass review of your fellow birders - then you've seen a grey duck.
It does seem at least possible that there are some "pure" grey ducks left so until DoC/Birds NZ formally record the species as genetically extinct then close enough is surely good enough....
Cheers Jim
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Location: Christchurch

Re: grey duck

Postby andrewcrossland » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:03 am

Yep, I think so too.

In a way, the Grey Duck is our Passenger Pigeon - once so common, then suddenly so rare. But I believe that rumours of its demise have been exaggerated and Grey Ducks are probably marginally more common than people currently presume.
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Location: Te Puke

Re: grey duck

Postby Raewyn » Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:45 pm

This has been a very interesting discussion. I find the speculum colour very difficult in photos - it's iridescent so changes dramatically according to the angle of the light as shown in the photos below. I hunted back through my photos because I know I have at times photographed what I saw as a green speculum and then found that the photo didn't show it. With old photos, it's hard to be sure that consecutive pictures are the same duck, but this one with the deformed leg is very obviously so. These two were taken within one minute of each other.
IMG_9018-19combined.jpg (257.61 KiB) Viewed 165 times

Another factor I always look at is the duck's feathers. Grey ducks have a clear colour delineation between the main feather colour and its edge. Mallards have scruffier feathers. Some years ago I made up a table of 10 features that distinguish the two, and rather than pick off just a couple of specifics, I try to look at the whole bird. If it ticks all the boxes I figures it's probably close to "pure".

Another observation is that in the urban environment, eg Carmichael Reserve at Tauranga and Sullivan Lake at Whakatane, the "more grey" ducks are less likely to line up to be fed, and are more likely to be on the edges of the melee or even somewhere else entirely. If there is a bunch of ducks going nuts over bread, the pair that are in sight but not participating are worthy of a closer look.

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