This pair of Mottled Ducks was swimming in and out of patches of late afternoon sun on a shallow pond.
I stopped at a bench at the edge of the pond and they watched me as I watched them.
Baily Tract, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
January 6, 2020
I used the Merlin App to identify these as Mottled Ducks. Further reading at Cornell’s All About Birds:
It’s reminiscent of a female Mallard or an American Black Duck, but this is the closely related Mottled Duck. They’re so closely related that hybridization, especially with Mallards, poses a real threat to the Mottled Duck’s future.
In Florida, hybridization with introduced Mallards has produced many so-called “Muddled Ducks,” and care is needed to confirm identification of a “pure” Mottled Duck.