Mottled Duck 3 - Morgan County, CO - July 2013
Apparent Mottled Duck of the race maculosa from the western Gulf of Mexico, photographed at Andrick Ponds State Wildlife Area on 28 July 2013. The bird is darker than any Mexican Duck I've seen, with more diffuse head markings and a barely visible pale rear-border to the speculum (seen only if you squint at a couple of the photos). American Black Duck should have more markings on the white underwing coverts, and less contrastingly pale head, a darker crown and bolder eyestripe. The speculum color appears blue vs purple, favoring Mottled over American Black Duck. The bill color looks olive in some photos, and at least partly orange in others, which is confusing.... I also think that I can see the dark spot near the gape in some photos, but this could be artifact. In a number of photos on the web (of correctly ID'd Mottled Ducks) the pale posterior border to the speculum is difficult or impossible to see, and the gape mark is, well, indeed, subtle. We saw this bird at a distance whilst it sat amongst Mallards, but a Mallard sat in front of it, and then there was a possible (but not) Neotropic Cormorant and a very real rattlesnake... and well, the rest is in flight.