[Tweeters] Unlikely Hybrid?

Guttman,Burton GuttmanB at evergreen.edu
Wed Feb 11 12:45:54 PST 2009

"Stunning" indeed. Let me remind you all that about two years ago (I think) we had a fascinating report (which I can't find right now) from one of our Tweeters colleagues in the Shelton area about female Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers sharing a nesting box (in which a camera had been installed), with fights over who had the right to incubate a mixture of eggs of the two species. I was so impressed by this note that I used it on the Birdwise program on local community television, the program that Tom Schooley and others had put together for a couple of years. Now, of course, shared nesting is not the same as hybridization, and shared ecologies doesn't imply shared genes or the viability of hybrids. But there is something about proximity inviting intimacy, and I think we're just barely starting to learn about the kinds of signals (plumage details, voice, courting behavior) that would encourage or discourage mating between two individuals of opposite sex and nominally opposite species. Who knows what lonely little ducks out on the lake may feel: "Le coeur a ses raisons, que le raison ne connait point."

Burt Guttman
The Evergreen State College
Olympia, WA 98505 guttmanb at evergreen.edu <mailto:guttmanb at evergreen.edu>
Home: 7334 Holmes Island Road S. E., Olympia, 98503


From: tweeters-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu on behalf of Larry Schwitters
Sent: Wed 2/11/2009 11:35 AM
To: Tweeters
Subject: [Tweeters] Unlikely Hybrid?


Check out this photo of a "stunning male Wood Duck x Hooded Merganser
hybrid" found on the 108th Christmas bird count in Northampton, Mass.

I would not think these two species are close enough in to pull it off.

What do you tweeters think?

Larry Schwitters
Tweeters mailing list
Tweeters at u.washington.edu

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