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Despite that we do not have much to go on with this month’s quiz, the subject is identifiable. The fact that what we can see is obviously the top-front quarter of a bird head and that the visible plumage is all iridescent green, we really have only four options: Mallard, Northern Shoveler, and Common and Red-breasted mergansers. I used this picture – or, I should say, part of the picture (the whole picture is presented below) – to encourage folks to look at two features: eye color and head shape. With those two features and the plumage coloration, we can ID this bird with certainty.
Because all four of these duck species have green heads only in males and, then, only in “breeding” plumage, we can be certain that that is the plumage that our quiz bird holds. With that, we can eliminate Northern Shoveler and Red-breasted Merganser on eye color, with the former having yellow eyes and the latter red. Discerning which of the remaining two dark-eyed options our quiz bird represents is a bit more problematic, and rests on head shape. Common Merganser has the peak of the crown in front of the eyes, while that of Mallard falls behind the eye. I took the below picture – out of which the quiz photo was selected – of a male Mallard at Cape May Point State Park, Cape May Co., NJ, on 30 November 2011.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the March Bird Photo Quiz—Mallard:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.