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This morning I spent about an hour with the interesting teal found yesterday by Pat Burns and photographed by Steve Collins, and I'm not too nervous about calling it a Common (Eurasian Green-winged) Teal rather than a hybrid.

First, here are Steve's photos:

http://plaza.ufl.edu/dcollins/Teal/

And here's the web site that Vince Lucas linked to, that discusses hybrids:

http://thebirdguide.com/identification/Eurasian_Teal/teal_hybrid.htm

Admittedly the abbreviated scapular stripe shown in Steve's pictures does resemble that on the hybrid shown on the web site, and for half an hour this morning I was leaning strongly toward calling this bird a hybrid. But then it flew across the pond and when it landed the black-and-white stripes were very prominent and extended two-thirds to three-quarters the length of the body. The white stripe was not noticeably broader than the black, but it wasn't any narrower either, and it was plenty bold.

Two other signs of hybridization mentioned by the web site were a faint shoulder stripe (like a Green-winged Teal's) and reduced creamy outlining of the facial markings. I had a very good view of the shoulder area when the bird waddled ashore to preen, and there was no trace of a shoulder stripe. And the creamy lines on the face are precisely like those on the Common Teal shown on the web site, not at all like those on the hybrid.

I don't suppose hybridization can be absolutely ruled out; but on the other hand, if Steve's photos had shown the full extent of the scapular stripe I don't think the notion would ever have entered anyone's mind.

If you're interested, here are directions: From I-75 exit westbound on State Road 24 and go about two miles to SW 75th Street. Turn right and go 1.2 mile to SW 41st Terrace. Turn right and go 0.7 miles to Gainesville Regional Utilities' Chapmans Pond Observatory, which will be on your left.
Web site (with map): http://www.gru.com/OurCommunity/ParkProjects/chapmanspond.jsp

Rex Rowan
Gainesville

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