yellow mallard ducklings

I was out with my kids and we spotted a pair of mallards with 8 ducklings. 6 were the normal brown grey mottled duckling look, but two were bright yellow. I promised the kids I would ask here why two were yellow. Are they younger than the others, or from a different dad? Will they grow to be white ducks? (UK pond if that helps)

Either hybrids or mutants ( unless their was a mix-up with two different broods ). I believe both Pekin and Muscovy Ducks have solid yellow ducklings and both of those domestic breeds are common on suburban ponds and will readily hybridize with Mallards ( though I think the Muscovy-Mallard crosses tend to be sterile ). In fact Mallards will screw just about anything and have been known to hybridize with upwards of 50 different species of ducks and geese.

The other possibility are spontaneous white mutants, which do occur in wild Mallard populations. Pekin Ducks are probably so derived ( I think Muscovy Ducks are actually the only species of domestic duck that isn’t derived from Mallards ).

  • Tamerlane

thanks for that Tameralne. I will pass that on to the kids -( though will find another word for “screw”)

All of our mallard ducklings were yellow immediately after hatching; they got darker as they got older. They only differed from out pekin ducklings in color slightly: the little mallards had brown zigzags on their heads, which broke up the yellow slightly. They looked like the ones described on the right here (no picture, unfortunately)

These guys are the oposite of ours, so perhaps it varies with genetics.

IICR mallard is sort of a generic name given to a few sorts of ducks (domestic and wild aren’t exactly the same bird and so on) so that might factor into the difference in appearance too.

elfkin, the description in th e first link mentioned lots of brown spotting similar to the picture in the second link. These two ducklings we saw were pure yellow, like those of domesticated white ducks, with the others just like the second photo. I will try and keep and eye out for the ducklings as they are on the way to work, and see if the yellow one go darker or lighter

I can’t comment about American usage, but in Britain the name mallard is used for a species (Anas platyrhynchos) and is not a generic term.

My WAG to answer the OP is that the parents were not pure-bred mallards and some of the genetic mixture is coming through among the siblings (I don’t think it’s possible for a single brood to have more than one father).

I was wondering the same thing as I have 8 mallards ducklings from my mallards breeding pair. 3 are bright yellow and 5 are normal brown with yellow they are all 3 weeks old they hatched the colours that they still are? I thought maybe the yellow ones will be males and the brown females, but I can not confirm any yellow mallard ducklings being hatched in all the research i have done. the parents have not been able to cross breed or inter breed as they are the only 2 adult ducks I have. interesting???

Your adults probably have some mixed species or white ancestry- it wouldn’t necessarily be visible, and it’s very common, I’ve seen mixed yellow/normal broods wild in the UK quite a few times. I don’t think there’s a sex link to the yellow down, it’s probably just random.

Ducklings, other water fowl and some other birds will follow almost anything that they are first attracted to upon hatching.

I had an uncle who took great delight in slipping a duck or goose egg under a hen whose brood was about to hatch and this duck or goose would follow the hen around in a most amusing manner for several day. He once succeeded in getting a goose egg into a newborn litter of kittens and the goose hatched and followed the cat for some while.

Perhaps the situation mentioned in the OP was just a mixing of nest eggs.

I don’t know about ducks of various types, but I have observed that Canada Geese tend to run daycares, or trade offspring, or just collect them. Goslings from one group or family will often end up tagging along with another group. Sometimes it grows to ludicrous proportions, where an adult pair is followed 20 or 30 babies at various stages of maturity. (I remember too seeing one brood where the one adult - the male? - was harrassing two of the dozen or so babies following them around, trying to drive them away from the group. Once the adult was distracted, these two would sidle back and try to mingle again.

So is it possible the yellow ones were a draft pick from another team?