MYSTERIOUS SIGHTING: Pacific Black Duck

What is presumably a Pacific Black Duck spotted in the middle of Sta Rosa on Curacao (Caribbean) by volunteer Delia. Photo by Delia Maria Goilo

Rare bird species and even the first sighting of certain species on the island Curacao are an almost yearly occurrence. However, some observations are downward strange.

Last week (week of March 7) visitors to the uninhabited island of Klein Curacao, which lies off the east point of the main island Curacao, found a duck that was very weak and decided to bring the animal to the mainland to a local vet specialized in birds. At first, the coloring of the duck suggested it was a Blue-winged teal, however, the animal was much larger than these well-known regular visitors to the island. After some identification input, the animal was first identified as an American Black Duck. And erroneous identification as the identification soon changed into a possible Pacific Black Duck, with the help of reviewers of eBird.org. An absolutely stunning first observation for the island of Curacao and also for the Caribbean, as this bird has never before been seen in this region.

Quick internet research by colleague Curacao Backyard Birding revealed the species is not used as pet animals nor are they common for commercial use. It, therefore, is a mystery how the individual ended up on Klein Curacao.

What is presumably a Pacific Black Duck spotted in the middle of Sta Rosa on Curacao (Caribbean) by volunteer Delia. Photo by Delia Maria Goilo

However, that is not the only mystery we are faced with concerning this individual. Bird Watching Curacao volunteer Delia, spotted a weird-looking duck at the beginning of March (a few days before the finding on Klein Curacao) in the vicinity of her house. This was in the area of Sta. Rosa, inland and not close to any harbor. As the animal was behaving weirdly she decided to try to catch it, to bring it to a vet and had the clarity of mind to take good pictures of the animal before she tried catching it. The animal was savvy enough to escape the attempt and disappeared.
The photo she send in later indicated the animal was also a Pacific Black Duck, and it even seems to be the same individual as the one found on Klein Curacao if we compare the coloration and patterns of the individual. How the animal arrived in the middle of Sta. Rosa, and afterward ended up on Klein Curacao is the absolute mystery of this story to which we have no answers yet. The search continues and we would appreciate additional information on similar sightings and/or the import of these animals elsewhere in the world and especially in the Caribbean. We are also very curious to know if anyone on Curacao is rearing this species. Please react in a n a comment if you have any information.

Pacific Black Ducks are about 50 – 60 cm in length have orange feet and gray bills. The coloration on their heads is very distinctive. The birds occur in New Zealand, Australia, and Indonesia.

Pacific Black Duck – (Anas superciliosa)
Curacao
March 2022


One thought on “MYSTERIOUS SIGHTING: Pacific Black Duck

  1. It’s definitely not a pacific black duck. Pacific black ducks are mostly dark brown with thin buff feather edges. They have no chestnut brown on them like this one does. They have defined facial markings and cream face stripes that extend from the bill to them rear of the head.

    The legs are dark brown/grey and orange legs are more likely a sign of hybridisation with feral mallards in Australia, NZ and pacific islands. This hybridisation is a serious problem in many islands and urban areas.

    I think this is more likely to be a female domestic mallard variant, possibly hybridised with a species of American black. I’m aware that mallards hybridise with many American species (Mexican duck for example) and this variation may be the result of this.

    Like

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