[Ducks] Hybrid Shoveler x Garganey at Mai Po

Hybrid Shoveler x Garganey at Mai Po

This bird was seen yesterday at Mai Po, at Gei wai #3. It was with Shovelers and a female Garganey.
I'm fairly sure it is a hybrid Northern Shoveler x Garganey, based on the following:
- Large bill and green head resembles male Northern Shoveler
- Pale flanks but with chestnut in some areas
- Grey undertail
- Speckled brown breast and back
- Suggestion of a pale supercilium in front of eye
- Black and white scapulars similar to Garganey

This hybrid combination that seems to be fairly unusual, and I haven't yet managed to find any other photos of the combination. If anyone else has seen this bird in recent days (or over the winter) and has managed to get better photos than these, I would love to see them.

[ Last edited by ajohn at 17/03/2016 12:53 ]


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17/03/2016 12:53

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Hello John
I have got few shot today morning,
hope can help you to identify the combination!


Thanks for posting these, I think they are very useful for the consideration of the ID.

There are a few points visible here that I wasn't able to confirm when I saw the bird:
- Wing pattern is quite similar to male Garganey, with a blue-grey forewing, green speculum and white bands on the greater coverts and secondary tips (shoveler should have broad white tips to GC but narrow or no white on secondaries)
- Tail pattern does not fit shoveler, which is usually dark in the centre and white on the outer tail. Looking at photos it seems closer to some garganey (e.g. ... ize=1&Location=), but slightly more patterned than most. I may need to check whether another species shows this pattern.
- Legs are not right for shoveler, which has bright orange legs, or for Garganey, which has greyish legs. These are yellowish-grey, perhaps intermediate between the two species. Several ducks have grey legs though, so this doesn't confirm which of these is involved.


I just send the link of this thread to Sebastien Reeber to get his feedback and opinion regarding this bird.
Below a short summaryze of his reply :

"these pictures ar showing obviously what is known of nybride Northern Shoveler x Garganey. The bill itself indicate shoveler for one of the parent, also shown by rufous on flanks and the dark greenish tinge of the head for example/ Garganey is indicated by the dark iris, the breast and upperwing pattern. I saw a similar bird at Grand Lieu (lake and nature reserve on the atlantic coast).

So not too much doubt about the identity of this hybrid, as it is showing features of both parents and some intermediate features (legs for example). The only problem could be its origin (I raise to him the question that many wild duck species are raised in China for food and restaurant as talked before on the forum). I strongly believe that iss origin is wild, but according to the context you (me) described in China, have to be cautious. In France, Northern Shoveler and Garganey are rarely holds in captivity, raisers preferring more exotic species, therefor and according to their abundance in the wild, there is little chance that these two species interbreed and that such hybrid are of captive origin and escaped. But it's not impossible, in that case one of the parents could be one of the 3 other shoveler species, smithii, platalea or rhynchotis, even the dark head and the rufous flanked eliminate the two first.

In conclusion, except particular local context that there is no reason to think it is an escapee and that it is surely a hybrid Northern Shoveler x Garganey." Sebastien Reeber