Thanks for sending the JPG of your bird. The bird is, in my opinion, a drake of the year that has yet to develop adult plummage. Eclipse birds are rarely shot during hunting seasons due to the fact that adult birds usually attain full plumage before southern migration begins. I have seen many drakes in juvenile plummage in Alaska and the Prairie Provinces, not to mention local birds in the lower 48. If the bird was an eclipse drake, the distinction between the breast and body feathers would be more distinct.
I am sending you photos of eclipse mallards to show the difference. The bill is also distinctly drake, as is the feathering around the vent. Follow the procedures I sent via email and you can sex the bird for positive proof. Check out Frank Belrose's "Ducks, Geese and Swans of North America" for further evidence.
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Definitely a drake, but I'm going to step out on a limb and say it's NOT in eclipse plumage. When ducks change into eclipse, they follow a certain pattern in their molt and that duck is all wrong. I have seen mallards before with small patches of "hen" feathers, usually on the breast. Nothing ever like the one you have. [Jimi Hendrake?] The divisions between the two colors are very sharp, unlike the sprinkled look of a normal molt.
I have three theories. 1] it's a mutant, 2] it's a very late hatch, 3] it was injured when young and those feathers were lost before the bird was old enough to grow breeding plumage. The folicles often rest a while before growing another feather so that might explain why that part of him was delayed. If you look closely at the brown feathers are they a little paler than normal hen feathers? Especially closer to the body? If so, I would think they are emergency replacements and would have been normal later on.
A close look at the tertials, scapulars, and pectoral tract [side pockets] can help determine when the bird was killed. If the tertials are worn and faded, what you have is a summer killed duck. [BIG no-no here!] I don't think it looked like that, though.
See? I really do have an opinion on everything!
Thanks for the photo. I will print it for the novelty's sake...and I envy your camera equipment!
I really should read all the new posts that have been written before I add anything new, but... oh well. I have been out of the competition scene and hiding under a rock for a while, but at one time I was into it pretty big. I was also a Texan. [since recovered] Have we met? I am more of an old boiler than a spring chicken so maybe we are contemporaries. [My memory is grayer than my hair!]
During my days in the TTA I was a Crocker. Any recollection?
Never belonged to the TTA. Rode the MTA once, in Boston, though. Retired to Texas to become a fishing curmudgeon.
Concur that the young man's bird is a juvenile. Look at the band between the dark neck color and the breast.....too ragged and broken to be an eclipse adult. Ditto the head. Adult eclipse heads are much sorrier looking. Adults in eclipse have less barring on breast than young of the year. Somebody shot a baby.
There was a rumour once about me and some lady named Betsy Crocker, but I put that to rest a long time ago.
Going! lol you even forgot her name! it's betty crocker!