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A couple weeks ago I found this teal in a small pond near my home. I watched it swimming from both sides for over five minutes and didn't see any hint of the vertical white bar on the side of the breast that is distinctive for North American Green-winged Teal. This made me wonder if it was a Common Teal, considered the Eurasian subspecies of Green-winged Teal by most American authorities, but considered a separate species by Europeans. Common Teals have a white horizontal stripe on their sides, rather than the vertical white bar. While watching this bird, I never did see a white stripe. The breast seemed paler and more washed out, less brightly pattered than most Green-winged Teal, but otherwise I didn't see anything else that might tell me what it was.
Back at home, looking at David Sibley's page on how to identify Common Teal, he noted that the breast of the Common Teal is "paler and grayish, less buffy" than a Green-winged Teal and that the white stripe on Common Teal can be covered up by their scapular feathers. Based on these two criteria, I put word out on the Jerseybirds listserv that there was an "apparent" Common Teal at the pond.
A few folks emailed me to say that this pale-marked bird might be a hybrid. Since there was a Common Teal and an apparent hybrid teal being reported in Newtown, PA about an hour away, I stopped by there on my way to work this week and took a look at them. There was for sure a bird with a bright white horizontal stripe (Common Teal) as well as another bird that looks a lot like my Demott Pond teal--with only a pale white vertical bar on each side of the breast. I don't know if that was the supposed hybrid bird or not. I've got more research to do on that, I suppose.
So, a fun ongoing learning experience, even if it isn't fun to have to retract a public identification!