[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2014] – I spotted this male “Brewer’s Duck” (Mallard X Gadwall hybrid) at Lindo Lake on 08 March 2014. It was associating with mixed dabbling ducks on the shallow east lake. It is certainly an interesting looking interspecific hybrid. This type of hybrid duck is most famous for being painted by John James Audubon who named it in honor of his friend and fellow ornithologist Thomas Brewer. Audubon clearly suspected there might be something awry here and noted in his description the similarity of the male bird he painted to the Mallard but added “It may possibly be an accidental variety, or a hybrid between that bird and some other species, perhaps the Gadwall, to which also it bears a great resemblance”. I couldn’t agree more!
This individual appears to be a different one from another male “Brewer’s Duck” found by Bruno Struck at Santee Lakes on 29 Nov 2013. The Santee Lakes bird had larger yellow cheeks. The extent of the yellow face marking does seem to vary in this hybrid although both these examples match closely those documented elsewhere on the internet.