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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

3-G Birding

My folks came up last Sunday for a pancake breakfast at the casa followed by some birding at nearby Walden Ponds in Boulder. My wife Char snapped a pic I really like- three generations of Schmoker boys bird-seeking:
From left to right that's Garrett, Willy (yours truly), and Jim.

One bird we studied was this hybrid Cinnamon x Blue-winged Teal. This is a fairly well-known duck hybrid combo, but each version seems to have its own mix of traits from the parents. (See
Jeff Bouton's pics of another here.) The Boulder bird is noteworthy not just for the classic mix of CITE and BWTE field marks, but for the fact that this is the fifth consecutive spring that it has been noted at Walden Ponds. Here's a pic I took of the bird in April of 2002:
And here's a pic from April of 2003. Note how the wing feathers are much more displayed when the bird is out of the water preening (ducks often have most of their wings tucked under their tertials when they are swimming around dabbling or diving.)
I'm sure this is the same bird- even though this is a well-known hybrid they are still quite uncommon, and this one shows a bright facial crescent with a distinctive little break just below eye level. (Note Jeff's bird and the illustration in Sibley where birds don't show this much of a white facial crescent.)

This year, the bird is hanging out with a pair of "normal" Cinnamon Teal (I say "normal" because they look good phenotypically, but who knows what genes they carry.) Interestingly, recent DNA "barcode" analysis showed no detectable genetic differences in the two. There have to be some genetic differences, though, even if undetectable with current technology. Outside of the genetics lab, CITEs and BWTEs usually tell each other apart. Besides the field mark differences, the two segregate themselves by migration timing (in Colorado, Cinnamon Teal are earlier to arrive and later to depart) and they usually hang out separately (but of course, this bird's parents didn't follow that rule...) Anyway, It is cool to compare & contrast the males side-by-side to see the differences. I'm also throwing in a pic of a classic male Blue-winged Teal that I took a few years ago in Texas for comparison and to see the blend of traits that this hybrid ended up with.


Amy said...

Delightful 3-G photo!

birdchick said...

I wish we would get more cinnamon teal in Minnesota. That bird really does justice to the color brown.