Pale Mallard crossPale Mallard cross – Nikon D300, f9, 1/1000, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I’ve been photographing birds at my local pond since I moved to Utah in 2009 and while I prefer to photograph the wild birds that visit it there are also plenty of mallards that have cross bred with domesticated ducks that are either beautiful or interesting to see and photograph.

Mallards are well known for cross breeding with many other ducks species including ducks that have been domesticated, some people call them feral ducks, hybrids or mutt ducks, I prefer to call them “manky”, a term I became aware of when Mike at 10,000 Birds asked to use one of my mallard photos in a post about manky mallards, Mike goes into detail about the crosses but I won’t here, I am just sharing these portraits I have taken over the years. Manky ducks come in many colors and sizes and while some people may ignore them as photographic subjects I find them interesting.

The pale Mallard cross above hung around my local pond for several years and I thought it was beautiful because of its light colored plumage with spots of dark chocolate, espresso and butterscotch colored feathers.

Light colored Mallard hybrid portraitLight colored Mallard hybrid portrait – Nikon D300, f11, 1/500, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I don’t know what kind of cross this manky mallard is but I thought she had a beautiful face and facial markings that were accented by her soft brown eyes. Her body also had lighter colored plumage than the wild mallards.

Alert Mallard hybrid portraitAlert Mallard hybrid portrait – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This manky mallard has a very large body, much larger than the wild mallards at the pond so I know it is a cross of something and the coloring isn’t too far off from normal female mallards.

Dark relaxed Mallard portraitRelaxed hybrid Mallard portrait – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 250, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

But take a look at that bill. It isn’t the color of a wild mallard at all, in fact parts of it look silver with a hint of patina to it. I don’t think I have ever seen a bill quite that color even on another manky mallard.

Dark headed Mallard portraitDark headed Mallard portrait – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 250, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Then there is this guy with his dark brown head with only a few spots of green iridescence and white plumage near his bill that runs down his neck to his chest. That little bit of white behind its eye is interesting too.

Hybrid Mallard close upHybrid Mallard close up – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 320, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I love the mossy green color of this manky duck’s head against those snowy white feathers. The eye of this duck looks almost violet-blue instead of brown when I view this photo at full resolution.

Mossy colored head of a hybrid MallardMossy colored head of a hybrid Mallard – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The mossy green head feathers were so beautiful to me that I had to share another image of this manky duck right after it took a drink.

Staring dark Mallard hybrid portraitStaring dark Mallard hybrid portrait – Nikon D500, f10, 1/500, ISO 250, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This dark manky mallard was a large, heavy looking duck with a big head. The nail tip at the end of the bill almost looks like it has a wood grain to it instead of being a solid dark color.

Chocolate colored Mallard hybrid portraitChocolate colored Mallard hybrid portrait – Nikon D500, f9, 1/400, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I can’t even begin to guess what kind of cross this manky mallard is but I like its chocolate colored head, white bib and the silvery-blue, black spotted bill along with the scale-like appearance of the feathers on its back and body.

Male Mallard hybrid portraitMale Mallard hybrid portrait – Nikon D500, f9, 1/400, ISO 250, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This manky mallard was also much larger than the wild mallards on the pond and the iridescence on its head was more blue to turquoise than the wild mallards too. I kind of thought he looked regal.

Yes, some people might call these manky mallards homely, weird or even downright ugly but I prefer thinking of them as oddly beautiful and believe they are worthy of being showcased once in a while.

Life is good. Being an odd duck is too.

Mia

Even these manky mallards are wild, they are just as free to fly at this pond as the wild ducks are.