Intersex female Gadwall

is the answer…

…apparently to the Mystery bird. Paired with a normal male Gadwall, this female has been present at Slimbridge (a wild bird, not part of the collection) for a number of years. In recent years it has been progressively developing male-like characters in its plumage with each successive moult. It’s still paired to the male- wonder what he thinks of it all?!

P.S.  if it helps I thought it might be some kind of Gadwall hybrid when I first saw it (thanks to reserve warden, James Lees  for the info)

Reduced function of sex organs in females and development of male-like characters in older females has been long documented. I don’t know much about it, more discussion on the subject here:

The Mystery Bird:

Her bill blackened, head pattern changing, male-like breast pattern, scapulars and blackened rear end. Oddly the flanks are more like a bright version of the female plumage. Tried to see/ photograph the wing pattern for differences, but failed (poor light).

her (confused?) mate:


About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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One Response to Intersex female Gadwall

  1. Cool! Coincidentally I came across a photo of a similar bird in the last few days, taken by Jay Clark on 28th December, here, though I didn’t recognise it as intersex (though that did cross my mind). I wonder how advanced the plumage development was when the bill lost its female colour – in intersex Mallards the bill is often (not always) still female-like when the plumage is mostly male-like.

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