Mallards? at West Belconnen Pond

To: Philip Veerman <>
Subject: Mallards? at West Belconnen Pond
From: Paul Gatenby <>
Date: Fri, 26 May 2017 21:04:03 +0000
Wild mallards are reported as being introduced for hunting several times and to all states from 1852 onwards. Presumably they came from some estates in U.K. Where "wild" deer  also came from. When growing up in Tasmania in 1950s and 1960s I only ever remember mallards as the duck in city and town parks. Not so now so some authorities have actively destroyed mallards at some stage. A google search confirms this and I think we should urge ACT parks to act. Most mallards I've seen recently in Canberra are domestic type and I wonder if when they hybridise the same rules for identification apply? 

Paul Gatenby

Sent from my iPad

On 27 May 2017, at 12:09 am, Philip Veerman <> wrote:

That all sounds fair enough for the Mallard, although “introduced” does not of itself mean “domesticated”. I would suggest that very few of the many other species that were successfully introduced into Australia were “derived from domesticated birds”. Would it not be the case that most of them (most birds, foxes, etc ) were not domesticated but were just wild caught fauna, transported here and released.


From: Mark Clayton
Sent: Friday, 26 May, 2017 9:42 AM
To: 'sandra henderson'; 'Martin Butterfield'
Cc: 'David McDonald personal'; 'Julie Clark'; 'COG Chatline'
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Mallards? at West Belconnen Pond


To clarify the statement by Sandra saying that the “true Northern Mallard has never been reported in this region (I am assuming COG’s AoI)”, the genuine wild bird has never been officially recorded in Australia. It is listed as ‘introduced” in Christidis and Boles (2008) so all birds recorded in Australia are derived from domesticated birds. Some of these birds are very close to the original wild ancestor and several years ago I reported several very “authentic” looking male “Northern” Mallards on the pond at the Namadgi Visitors Centre to the ranger on duty. Her reply was that they regularly flew in from the neighbouring farm. I did suggest that the birds should have been trapped and destroyed but the ranger stated they “weren’t hurting anything” and people liked to see them!! I have also seen a female “Northern” Mallard being courted by several male Pacific Black Ducks at the Shortland’s Wetland Centre at Newcastle (this bird could also fly strongly)  and also reported this to the people on the reception desk. I was somewhat surprised with the answer “what’s a Mallard?” I did explain the problems caused in New Zealand with hybridisation between mallard and the native “Grey” Duck (Pacific Black Duck). Hybridisation is not a problem in Australia yet but all these reports of mallards should ring alarm bells and any feral birds should be  removed asap. Locally this should be a job for ACT Parks and Conservation but I doubt they have the time, money and probably more importantly, the inclination to get involved!




From: sandra henderson
Sent: Friday, 26 May 2017 5:08 AM
To: Martin Butterfield
Cc: David McDonald personal; Julie Clark; COG Chatline
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Mallards? at West Belconnen Pond


The notes under Mallard in COG's annual bird report (Canberra  Bird Notes 42(1)) say true Northern Mallard has never been reported in this region, which is why I always put them in as domestic type birds. It also indicates the general confusion, speculating on the fact that records with Mallard, mallard (domestic), and Mallard/black duck hybrids are probably all reporting the same birds. 

Sandra h

On Friday, 26 May 2017, Martin Butterfield <> wrote:



That is quite helpful in sorting out hybrids from Pacific Black Ducks.  


However the main issue of concern at West Belconnen is why are some of the males not wild Mallards.  What is needed is a key to tell the difference between a wild Mallard and a domesticated one. At present it seems to come down to "an authority has said so"  which is not particularly satisfactory.




On 26 May 2017 at 01:12, David McDonald personal <m("')","_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','david");;" target="_blank">> wrote:

Greetings, the material below from the eBird Australia Facebook page may be of interest.


We have potentially three mallard taxa in the ACT: Mallard aka Northern Mallard, Mallard (domestic form) and Mallard X Pacific Black Duck (hybrids).

Prominent local authorities, including Dick Schodde and the author of the ducks section of the ABR, advise that there have been no confirmed records of pure Mallard/Northern Mallard in the ACT. I note that some ACT and NSW records of Mallard in eBird are confirmed even though they do not provide field notes or photographs enabling the domestic form and hybrids to be excluded.




Des Wells, eBird Australia Facebook page   July 22, 2015 at 9:41pm · [my emphases]:

Queensland is currently reviewing a large number of bird species, Mallard is one of these. All individuals who have listed option 1 below have been asked to review their sighting. Individuals have been asked to provide notes on why they believe the bird is pure form and not domesticated or if in fact domesticated to change their sighting to option 2. The review is our attempt to make the data provided by eBird in Queensland more accurate. A goal I believe all bird watchers strive to provide.


Interestingly, of all the requests made so far and replied to by bird watchers 90% have confirmed that in fact the bird in question was domesticated and that they did not realise that they had the three options to choose from or that they did not understand the difference between the options.


Yes, we can select three options in Australia for Mallards:

Option 1:“Anas platyrhynchos - Mallard”;

Option 2: “Anas platyrhynchos (Domestic type) - Mallard (Domestic type)” and;

Option 3: The hybrid between Mallard and Pacific Black Duck – “Anas platyrhynchos x superciliosa - Mallard x Pacific Black Duck (hybrid)”.


If you select the first option, then it must show normal wild-type mallard size and wild-type phenotype. If so then use the standard “Anas platyrhynchos (Mallard)” designation. You will however need to provide a field notes/explanation and/or photo as to why you believe this to be a wild-type bird and not a domesticated bird.


If you are unsure or have no notes for explanation then always use the second option - Anas platyrhynchos (Domestic type).


If you can identify that it is a hybrid between the Pacific Black Duck and the Mallard then use the third option - Anas platyrhynchos x superciliosa .


New Zealand eBird odes provide its members with a useful little key with ducks you suspect may be Pacific Black Ducks (Grey Ducks over there) to see if they really are pure. I have modified the table below replacing Grey Duck with Pacific Black Duck so that bird watchers may use for this purpose in Australia.


Using the key below if your duck scores more than seven (7) it is almost certainly a hybrid Pacific Black Duck. You could put the hybrid index score in the comments column for your observation notes.


You can also use this key to look at the opposite whether the Mallard you are viewing is a hybrid or domesticated individual.


The index gives a score of 0 for the purest Pacific Black Duck and 35 for the purest Mallard.


If you select the first option, then it must show normal wild-type mallard size and wildtype phenotype. If so then use the standard “Anas platyrhynchos (Mallard)” designation. You will however need to provide a field notes/explanation and/or photo as to why you believe this to be a wildtype bird and not a domesticated bird.


[Facial stripes]

Pacific Black Duck: Two clear black stripes on a cream background - 0-1

Hybrid: Obscured face stripes - 2-3

Mallard: No face stripe to a thin black eye stripe in the female - 4-5


Speculum border – anterior

Pacific Black Duck No white bar 0-1

Hybrid Thin white bar (2 mm) 2-3

Mallard Broad white bar (5 mm) 4-5


Speculum border – posterior

Pacific Black Duck Faint white line 0-1

Hybrid Thin white bar (2 mm) 2-3

Mallard Broad white bar (5 mm) 4-5



Pacific Black Duck Slate grey 0-1

Hybrid Grey-yellow 2-3

Mallard Yellow-orange 4-5



Pacific Black Duck Cream 0-1

Hybrid Creamy brown 2-3

Mallard Dark brown in female or eclipse male, varying from a dark green to a purple-green in the breeding plumage male 4-5



Pacific Black Duck Slate Grey 0-1

Hybrid Grey-brown 2-3

Mallard Creamy brown in female or eclipse male, varying from a dark green to a purple-green in the breeding male 4-5



Pacific Black Duck Grey-brown 0-1

Hybrid Grey-yellow 2-3

Mallard Yellow-orange 4-5

Hi All,


I visited the West Belconnen Pond this afternoon in the hope of seeing the Restless Flycatcher. No luck unfortunately.


While there I saw numerous ducks that  are some sort of Mallard. I note that the COG outing saw Mallards (domestic type) and Kim L saw Mallards a few days later. I am really not sure whether the ones I saw are the domestic type or other.


An Id would be appreciated and also some tips about how to tell the difference.


Comparing my photos with field guides etc I would have said they were Mallards ...


Many thanks






Julie Clark



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