Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mocker Muddle - Northern Shrike or Northern Mockingbird?

 
Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos Brunswick, Maine February 2012
''
Lest there be doubt about where I saw this bird!
The Mocker flew to a nearby tree.
                Northern Shrike, Lanius excubitor, Phippsburg Maine March 2011. See how similar the two birds are? Note the hook on the shrike's bill.

Our dog, Perry, safely back in the car. Perry is a Shiba inu.


     My darling husband gave to me a Happy Day Surprise recently of a stunning pair of earrings. Each earring is a large, mother of pearl Bald Eagle in flight! They are magnificent! When I wore them for the first time yesterday , I felt like an Indian princess and an intrepid wildlife photographer all rolled into one. I held my chin a little higher (always good for a middle aged woman) and walked with a jaunty stride and my shoulders back. I felt goooood! 
      I did keep checking them though, repeatedly touching my fingers to my ears. At nearly three inches long, they are quite ostentatious. I wasn't self conscious; I was worried I'd lose one! It is a universal law of inverse proportions that you will lose one earring of a pair you love the most. You won't necessarily lose a member of the most expensive pair, but one that has the most meaning for you.
     When David and I once went to Italy, I brought home a pair of earrings. They weren't expensive, but they were a memento from that trip. We had been so happy on that trip that those earrings made me feel a little rush of those same times. When I put them on, I could feel that certain Italian sun that shines on temple stone and nearly smell the wild rosemary in the air.
     I often wear earrings when I go out regardless of what else I'm wearing, because they make me feel good. It's not uncommon for me to wear outrageous earrings while still in my bathrobe, especially if they are new ones. I know a woman who wears astounding, ruby-red lipstick everywhere she goes. Her garish swipe of cherry pucker-up flies in the face of her jeans, her husband's chamois shirt and her muck boots. I frequently see her mowing her back acres on her John Deere with grass clippings plastered all over her, but she looks fine! Some would say she looks ridiculous with that ghoulish gash across her face, but I for one completely understand.
   I once went on a photo trip north of here to shoot elk and deer. It was winter and the snow was deep which proved to be perfect. The cloven hoofed wonders looked pristine in the snow and the reflected light was gorgeous. I wore an oversized sweater with a suede vest lined with shearling pile. My cashmere, fingerless, "photographer's” gloves matched perfectly. I topped off my sumptuous outfit with my Italian earrings. I got lots of great photographs of elk and deer and promptly lost one of the earrings in the hopelessly deep snow. That was years ago, but it still haunts me.
     Every woman knows that you are saddled forever with the one earring that wasn’t lost. They can't be discarded for crimes they didn't commit, each with a blameless soul. I have an entire container devoted to single earrings that have lost their lovers. My lone, Italian earring resides there in my earring orphanage. When I see it, I can feel myself looking for its mate, as if I lost it yesterday and might actually find it. Like old photographs of long lost family, they haunt me and sometimes mock me.  
     The Monday morning quarterbacking solution to this is to always wear earrings with keepers on the backs. Having learned, I now usually do this, but it's not always an answer. Sometimes I forget, I’m hurrying, or simply wearing a pair that isn't constructed correctly for this. Such is the case with the fabulous Bald eagle earrings. I wasn’t going into the bush yesterday, only taking the dog to the vet. But, donning my dynamic, Bald eagle earrings, I felt born aloft! Knowing what can happen without warning to one you love, I compulsively fingered them making sure they were still there.
     Our dog despises the vet. Regardless of what I do to try to fake him out, he always knows that's where we are going. He loves to ride in the car, but I have to get him in hours in advance of departure. If he senses that we are going to the vet, he will not get into the car. He is ten years old and has learned my every nuance. He has also learned that he can get away with blowing me off when I give him a verbal command. I have to be really careful not to telegraph my intent because once I have done so, there is no amount of yelling, cajoling or bribery that will get him to come or get into the car. He cannot be bought nor caught.
     This time, I left the car door open in the yard and ignored him. He got in of his own accord and off we went. But, on pulling into the parking lot at the vet's, he was a wreck. He knew. He shivered, shook, trembled and drooled as if standing before an execution squad. I talked sweetness which didn't work, then had to yank him out of the car. Along with him came the winter's accumulation of trash and assorted articles, which I had to pick up. Flustered and irritated, I tossed a crumpled, paper bag, an empty soda can, and a glove back into the car. "Where's the other glove?" I wondered. Reflexively, I touched my earring.
     When I stood up, the leash with the collar attached hung lax in my hand without the dog. A jolting, black panic filled me. From across the lot, the freed dog looked at me, his face distorted with terror. Then, he headed directly for the road, a busy, local version of the Los Angeles freeway. I called him once, which he barely noticed. I resisted the urge to run after him. Instead, I went to the car and opened the door. "Hey, Perry!" I called as calmly as I could, choking on my own fear, "We're going home, buddy! Come on and get in the car - home!" I tried to sound cheerful. I stepped back from the open car door and thankfully, in he jumped.
     Before I had time to think or feel that sick feeling that comes with catastrophe, a bird flew into the shrubs beside the car. "Oh, my god! It's a shrike!" I grabbed my camera from the front seat, aimed and fired off a round of shots. I could hardly believe my eyes! From the confines of the car, the dog watched me advance closer and closer to the bird. I could not believe what I was seeing! I could hardly wait to post this find on the birding internet!
     To get the dog into the vet’s office and exam room, I had to carry him. At just over forty pounds, he’s not a big dog. However, he weighs more than a third of my total body weight and was not a cooperative subject. The next time, I would definitely harness him! He flailed and splayed his legs out, which of course, caught on the frame of the door jamming us both in the doorway. I almost dropped him! A receptionist watched us blankly from behind the safety of her desk without inclination to help us. Setting him down on the floor, I straightened up, picked a tuft of fur from my lips and checked my earrings. I had them both.
     Though exhausting, it was a great day! I still had the dog, both earrings and I had a great bird! Once home, the dog went directly to bed. I posted my bird to the internet. I was promptly corrected that I had not seen a shrike, but rather, a Northern Mockingbird. A Northern shrike would have been an excellent sighting. A Northern Mockingbird is a good bird for late winter in mid-coast Maine, but not a great bird. I don’t see them often in Phippsburg at any time of year.
     At first glance, I had actually thought it was a Mocker. But then, I was so flustered by having lost the dog that I didn’t think it through before posting to the internet. Embarrassed by this birding faux pas, I imagined the birding elite out there mocking my Mocker. Credibility is central amongst birders. To grossly misidentify a bird in a fit of uncontrolled exuberance was really crapping on my street “cred.”  
     Admittedly, the two songbirds look quite similar. They are both ten inches long, brownish gray, have long tails, and black wings with white bars. Their head shapes are slightly different and shrikes have a hook at the end of the bill. But, the bird’s position could make those points difficult to distinguish. Northern Mockingbirds have a dark stripe through the eye while shrikes have a full mask. However, a first winter shrike’s mask is not as pronounced making it easy to confuse with a Mocker. Both have white eye rings and are fast fliers that like high perches.  A good birder would never have confused the two. However, a really great birder would be wearing terrific earrings and have a camera ready. 


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Northern Pintail - Northern Pinhead


Northern Pintail drake with American Black ducks, as seen across the marsh on Hermit Island, Phippsburg Maine, February 2012
Marsh grass frozen under tide water, Hermit Island, February 2012
Do you see any car keys here?

Northern Pintail drake with American Black Duck drake, Phippsburg, Maine February 2012

 Northern Pintails have narrow, long wings and slender necks.

Northern Pintails upending at the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Preserve in New Jersey, 2010. Notice their pointed tails.
 
This may be the only owl I find all winter. It is folk art that I found on a fence post at Popham while searching for a Snowy owl.

     At home, I have a title; I am known as The Queen of Find. This is because my people think I have magical powers to find anything anytime. This includes objects I don’t own nor had any reason to even lay my eyes upon.  There’s no real secret to this; It’s just a system. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking where was the person who used an item when they last had it. That’s a no-brainer which any reasonable person should employ before asking someone else, namely me, “Have you seen my……..you fill in the blank.”  Most of the time, I don’t think about it because, I can literally ‘see’ the object in my mind. In fact, thinking about it usually messes with my powers. 
     I was born with some degree of what is called a “photographic memory.” As a youngster, I learned to use this talent to keep my father from beating us kids. When he couldn’t find something he had usually misplaced himself, I quickly pre-empted his wrath by finding what he sought, thus saving one of us a thrashing. Back then, being the Queen of Find had strictly practical applications. As I got older though, I came to like feeling special. I'll admit that by now, I have probably fostered dependency in some of my loved ones for the sake of my own thrill. 
     I was also born with really great eye sight. In fact, until the past couple of years, I had 20/10 vision. Any object that most people need to be ten feet from to see clearly, I can see from twenty feet away. This gave me a hefty advantage for birding, too. My husband is amazed at the birds I see that he does not, until I point them out. Traveling together on any given stretch of road, I'll see six raptors in the trees where he sees none.  Many times I've heard "You've got such a great eye!" A splendid birder friend once told me that I had "birding mojo." He didn't know it, but he couldn't have given me a finer compliment. I felt magnificent! 
     I'm at the age now where many of these talents are failing me and it scares the snot out of me. I am not going gently into the good night of aging. Like a lot of  women, I have struggled with knowing that I'm no longer the hottest babe in the room. Maybe I could deal with that more gracefully if everything wasn't disintegrating at once. I want to keep a couple of my talents that have set me apart. Does aging have to be a slow slide into incapacities?
     I do understand that cosmic balance and fairness dictate that compromises be made. So, I easily gave up on the idea that I would become an Olympic figure skater. My modeling career tanked when I stopped growing at five feet tall. And, I surrendered my dream of becoming a nuclear physicist when I flunked high school algebra. Those were my compromises, God. So where's the fairness?
     Everybody said when my eye sight started going to hell that it would deteriorate to a point, then stop, but apparently that's not true. Though my house is littered, confetti-like, with colorful reading glasses, none of them seem strong enough. I can't see far away quite as clearly as I used to, either. And now, my birding magic is losing its twinkle, too.
     I've seen quite a few rare birds in my birding career. I've had a good eye for picking them out and I've put the time and effort into it, too. Just this past week, I've seen and photographed a rare, Red-headed woodpecker and a Northern Pintail duck. The duck isn't rare, but it IS rare to see one in Maine in February. Nonetheless, the prize I long for is a Snowy owl. I've gone hunting nearly every day for weeks, so my failure to get one isn't for lack of trying. It must be, that like my thickening waist and ankles, my wrinkling face and dulling vision, the blush is off my mojo.
     After one of my recent fruitless Snowy expeditions to Popham Beach, I stopped at Hermit Island on my way home. A sulking brat, I was feeling very sorry for myself and quite desperate. My eyes keenly scanned the salt marsh and clam flats. That's how I spotted the Northern Pintail drake amongst the American Black ducks, all dabbling along the mud line. Well, at least that was something!
     I had barely stopped the car before I was shooting pictures out of the open window. I needed to be closer, so I pulled over. So as not to alarm them, I left the door open and slipped around the back of the car. Creeping across the muddy flat, I hunkered down to keep a low profile. I imagined myself like a sleek, Arctic fox slinking across the marsh. 
     Northern Pintails are a fairly large duck. Long and slender with narrow wings, they are fast and graceful fliers, sometimes called the “Greyhound of The Air.” The drakes sport a long, pointed tail which gives them the nickname “sprig.” When in breeding plumage, the tail accounts for a quarter of the full length of the bird! They aren't rare, though their populations have been in slow decline. Hybridization with invasive Mallards in the western and midwestern United States may be one reason. Predation by foxes, Bobcats and other large carnivores, disease, habitat loss and hunting are all contributing causes to their decline.
     Sprigs are dabbling ducks that eat mostly plants and insects from the bottom. Upending in shallow water, their long necks enable them to reach further down than other ducks. Usually eating in the evening or at night, they rest during the day. They breed in the northern areas of the planet. Highly migratory, they winter south of their breeding range to the equator. 
     The thermometer in the car said it was seventeen degrees. A biting wind cut across the flats from the west. As I stalked the ducks and waded through the icy tide water, I was mindful of where I stepped. In that cold, I couldn’t afford to stumble into a hole. Amber marsh grass, flattened and trapped in ice, lay in elegant whorls at my feet. Suddenly, the ducks flushed and the whirring wings raised them skyward and away. I was freezing!    
      When I got back to the car, I could not find my keys anywhere. I am compulsive about not leaving my keys in the car because I am paranoid about locking them in. I always put my keys into my right, front pants pocket. I check and double check them.  For me to lose car keys was unheard of! I couldn’t freaking believe it! I traced and retraced my steps through the frozen marsh at least a dozen times. After about the sixth pass, my feet went from throbbing to numb. I passed over and over the same beer bottle, rubber lobster claw band and wad of balloon ribbon, but could not find the keys. I grabbed fistfuls of my own hair and screeched at the sky, "Where they hell are they!" I screamed at no one. From far across the cove, a loon cried back.
     I searched the car, knowing they weren't there. The tide was creeping in as I walked the marsh again. I thought about frost bite. I didn't have a cell phone; coverage here is spotty at best. I was miles from a phone or occupied home.  I had left the car door open and window down to sneak up on the now, long gone ducks. I had thousands of dollars of camera equipment in the car, more than I could carry and more than I could abandon. Panic was setting in and panic is not my style. The Queen of Find was going to die empty handed and without ceremony on a clam flat. When I started to cry the tears froze on my face.
     As I was triaging which pieces of equipment to carry with me for the long trek ahead, a pick-up truck came barreling along. The driver named John, had a cell phone which mercifully had enough bars that I was able to call my husband to come with spare keys. I was exhausted and embarrassed.
     The next day, I went back and looked again, to no avail. Why would I look for keys lost in mud on a tidal flat, you ask? Because to have lost them was so unlike me, and to not be able to find them, less like me still. The Queen of Find had been summarily dethroned in the cold mud. 
     On the second day, David rustled up a metal detector that he had procured from the town dump. He put fresh batteries into it, then said "Let's go try for the car keys." It was stupid really because the tide had cycled in and out several times. Ice chunks had scoured the grass clean of even my footprints. For over an hour we wandered in circles on the mudflats like lunatics looking at our shoes. We found the same beer bottle, rubber lobster claw band and the wad of balloon ribbon, but not the keys. After an hour, David said he could totally appreciate my frustration. "If they were out here, we would have found them by now." He did find a quarter with the salvaged metal detector.
     Then, he found the keys on the floor of the car under the driver's seat. Just shoot me now, God.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

SNOWY NO SHOWY – FULL HUNGER MOON



        The rising, Full Snow or Full Hunger Moon, February, 2012 Phippsburg, Maine
Corona around the February full moon with reflection across Totman Cove, 2012

This is how the corona is created by moonlight. 

 

Bubo scandiacus
The Snowy owl is also called the Ghost Owl, Tundra Ghost, Ookpik or Uppik (Inuit of Alaska), and White Terror of the North. I have my own name for the Snowy owl, "Avis provocateur."
Photographed at Maine Audubon Society program on owls 2009

     The Algonquin, a Native American tribe from what is now the northern and eastern United States, gave distinctive names to each of the recurring full moons. They did this partially to keep track of the seasons. The January full moon was called the Wolf Moon. Outside of Indian villages, packs of hungry wolves howled at the moon while roving on the cold snow pack. Some tribes called the January moon the Full Snow Moon, but most reserved this for the following moon.
     The heaviest snow usually falls in February, so our second full moon of the year was called the Full Snow Moon.  Harsh weather made hunting very difficult, so some tribes called this the Full Hunger Moon. It sends a chill through me when I imagine what that must have meant for people living so close to the earth. To see the full moon ringed with color must have been especially terrifying.
     A halo or corona around the full moon is an uncommon sight. It can only happen, at most, twelve times a year. Of those twelve times, conditions have to be just right. The effect occurs when rays of sunlight (moon light is reflected sunlight) pass through water in the form of ice crystals or droplets in clouds preceding a weather front.  Native Americans would have known that it meant foul weather coming, too. They would have been able to speculate how long before the snow fell by how many stars were visible between the colored ring and the moon.
      In addition to fear, full moons are traditionally associated with insomnia and insanity, hence the word lunatic. When I worked in hospitals, especially on the third shift, we steeled ourselves for anticipated droves of patients coming into the emergency room. Sometimes this panned out, but often a full moon shift would just be one more, dull, long night. Scientific studies do not support that there is any more craziness taking place on the planet on full moon nights than any other.
     I can say that this January and February I have been driven a little crazy, full moon or not. January boasted one of the greatest shows of Northern Lights on the planet, yet I did not catch one bit of it. I tried. Many nights, I stayed up or got up from bed and went outside to check, freezing my keister off. Like a hungry wolf, I stalked the night sky for the Aurora Borealis to no avail. Then, clouds rolled in for days obliterating any chance of it or a sighting of the full, Wolf Moon.
     Toward the end of January and now, into February, the birding internet has been ablaze with chatter about the greatest irruption of Snowy owls in all of ornithology history. Newspapers and television have carried pieces. Even Joe Average, non-birder knows about the irruption of Snowys by now.
     In addition to outstanding numbers of reports of Snowy owls, we have had a remarkably mild winter. Warm temperature records have been broken all over the place. We’ve barely had any snow, either. Joe Average has been overheard to say that the reason the owls are here is because it’s been so warm.
     But, probably the real reason is because the owls’ food source crashed. In the northern most reaches of the planet, the owls eat mostly small rodents called lemmings. It’s likely that the rodent population plummeted due to disease as a cyclic event. The Snowy owls may have had a really good nesting year, too. More owls with less available food means packing up and heading south for food.  But, I have another theory: The elusive Aurora Borealis and the Snowy owls have all come from the north to drive me crazy. Science may not bear out that the full moon provokes insanity, but I can tell you that personally, it does.
     In my life, I have seen two Snowy owls in the wild. Both times were nearly forty years ago. Each time, I was driving at night through snow storms and alone. Like apparitions, the birds appeared from the darkness and flew in front of my car. Illuminated by the headlights, they looked other worldly, like great, winged ghosts. I was startled and though the car’s heater was blasting, a chill went through me. I was at once filled with wonderment. The spectral birds bewitched me; I’d seen something magical and was hooked forever.
     Four decades later, I’m still hungry for the sight of an ethereal Snowy owl. Escalating reports of the birds ferociously stokes my appetite, too! There have been reports of at least five Snowy owls within ten miles of here. Three different birds have been reported on Popham Beach. That’s so close I can hear the surf from my house.
     I have made many frantic trips over there to find the birds. I’ve staggered out of bed before sunrise, nauseous and haggard, but focused. With neither hair nor teeth brushed, my bloodshot eyes swimming like stewed tomatoes in buttermilk, I’ve raced to beat the sunrise to the beach. I’ve hoped to catch the birds starting their morning hunt, but the only one hunting has been me. No less maddening than the dead end trips is to then read on the birding internet that yet another one has been spotted by some other birder within mere miles. It's left me sleepless and dreaming of Snowy owls. It has, indeed been my Full Hunger Moon!
     Our largest, North American owl, the Snowy stands two feet tall with wings that spread six feet! They are fantastic hunters and are regarded by some as symbolic of bravery. Because they can see in the dark, the Snowy owl of legend is believed to help people to see truths.
     If not brave in my pursuit of this phantasmagorical bird, I am persistent. I share with the owl that I will do what it takes and go where I must to feed my needs. And the truth is, that though sometimes frustrated, I will continue look to the sky for shooting stars, ribbons and rings of light and amazing birds.


For more on the irruption of Snowy owls in the United States, check out this link:
http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/the-winter-of-the-snowy-owl

This blog was chosen as Editor's Pick on Open Salon. It is the thirteenth of my works to be so chosen.

Monday, February 6, 2012

FLYday - American Black Ducks in snow


American Black Ducks in snow, Phippsburg Maine January 2012

FLYday is an homage to what our feathered friends do best, fly.

Friday, February 3, 2012

If it walks like a duck or quacks like a duck, don't assume it's a duck! Hybridization of Dabbling Ducks

Mallard drake (Anas platyrhynchos) , Phippsburg Maine
  
Mallard hen, Phippsburg Maine Note her mottled breast feathers and orange and black bill
American Black Ducks (Anas rubripes), hens and drakes, Phippsburg Maine - Totman Cove in front of our house. Note that the males have yellow bills and the females have greenish bills. American Black ducks aren't actually black, but dusky. They were once called "Dusky" ducks.
American Black Duck and Mallard hen, Phippsburg Maine. Note that the Black duck doesn't have  distinctly mottled feathers as the Mallard hen.
Mallard hens and drakes with American Black Duck (in the middle with the yellow bill, slightly larger than Mallards), Smithville New Jersey
Mallard hens and drakes with American Black duck (far right, yellow bill) and Mallard x Black Duck hybrid (foreground, left - green and brown head, no neck ring, slightly mottled neck feathers), Smithville, New Jersey
Mallard hens and drakes with American Black duck and cross of the two species, Mallard x Black Duck
Mallard drakes and hen with single MallardxBlack duck cross - note mottled green and black head on third duck from the left, Bath Maine January 2012
Herring gulls with Mallard x Black duck cross and Mallard drake, Evergreen Cemetery Portland Maine 2011

    
     My father often said "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck." Oh! If only things were that simple.
     When I was a kid, life seemed so mysterious and complex. But, adults seemed to know what was going on and be in command. I believed that when I got older, life would be clearer and I’d have a handle on it too, like my Dad. I always thought I'd get smarter, then armed with more information, I would be a grown up making big decisions. But, not so. It not only hasn’t gotten easier, it hasn’t become more straightforward, either. I've found that as I've become older, I often have too much information to be speedily decisive.
     When I was younger, I’d shoot from the hip quickly. I identified my target, aimed, then fired. Now, I’m bogged down by the layers I see in everything!  I now know there are too many things to consider. Do I call my friend whose husband is in the hospital? She's probably swamped with calls of concern. Maybe I'll leave her alone. When my pal who lost her job calls me, do I give suggestions about what to do, or do I just shut up and listen? Do I take my limping dog to the vet or wait and see if he gets better on his own? The older I get, the more complicated life reveals itself to be. Even birding has failed me there. Oh, if only a duck were a duck were a duck...
     The more I learn about birds and birding, the less I know. Wouldn't you think that a simple duck would be easy enough to identify? No, not so. Of all bird species, waterfowl are the most prone to hybridization, with over 400 hybrids documented! This renders identification of ducks to a huge game of “Who’s Your Daddy.”
     Mallards are one of our most colorful and abundant dabbling ducks. In the winter, I often see them in the company of another common quacker, American Black ducks. This winter, birding has been so mind numbingly dull that even humdrum birds have been a welcome sight. Boredom has prompted me to scan flocks of banausic waterfowl more closely than I might otherwise have bothered to do. And, lo! A star in the east! Nah. Just ducks, but there were ducks that looked funny, not exactly like Mallards, but not like Black ducks, either.
     Mallards were not common in the northeastern United States until after about 1920. In efforts to increase the populations of ducks for hunters, Pennsylvania and Maryland wildlife authorities released more than a half million of them from game farms. Mallards, it turns out, are pretty randy rascals, too. Those from game farms tend to be more aggressive in pairing and mating than wild ones. When their territories began to overlap with other species of ducks, they mixed it up without hesitation.  Mallards tend to hybridize more than any other waterfowl and have crossed with around fifty species other than their own kind (list below)! Some consider Mallards invasive and they are certainly a challenge for waterfowl conservationists.
   The Mallard’s tendency to get it on readily with others stems from numerous factors: there are lots of them, they have many close relatives and in urban areas, there are usually too many dude ducks.
     American Black ducks are genetically quite similar to Mallards. So, hybridization of the two species wasn’t much of a leap. Sadly, the American Black duck population has been on the decline for several decades. Competition for habitat with Mallard bad asses may be one reason.
     In the above photos, the Mallard drakes with the blotchy brown spots on their heads, lack of a neck ring and mottled breasts are actually crosses of Mallards and American Black Ducks. This observation prompted me to scrutinize photographs in my archives of ducks. Lo and behold, there were numerous Mallard x American Black ducks among the throngs from locations across the globe! Well, that’s an exaggeration - just around New England. However, that I have been able to photograph several hybrids without looking for them bodes well for finding crosses of other waterfowl species.
   Nearly twenty percent of the offspring of Mallard hybrids have been found to be fertile and they do back breed. This means that a mixed species duck can mate with another mixed species duck and produce, well…a complex mess for a geneticist. This fallout from duck love adds a maddening, though fascinating, new perspective to bird watching.  Like a three dimensional game of Scrabble, it gets more complicated with every turn if you are lucky enough. 

List of documented hybrids
Northern Pintails (most common cross with Mallards in the Northwestern United States),
Eurasian and American Wigeons,
Cinnamon and Green-winged Teals,
Northern Shoveller,
Gadwalls,
Mandarin and Wood ducks (next to Mallards, Wood ducks cross with the highest number of other species coming in at 26),
Redhead, Ring-necked and Tufted Duck,
Canvasback,
(all of the above have been documented to cross with other species besides Mallards, too! Can you say “paaaaaaaaarty?”)
Eiders,
Hooded Mergansers,
Common Goldeneyes,
Geese
The information  in this essay was obtained from a host of internet sources. Thanks to all who actually did the research for the rest of us.