Plumage changes in an intersex Mallard Anas platyrhynchos over a six-year period
Keywords:Anatidae, duck, field studies, gradual masculinization, longitudinal observations, phenotype, photographic documentation
Intersex individuals with a mixture of female and male plumage traits are reported regularly, but at low frequency. Here we describe the changes in plumage in a Mallard Anas platyrhynchos intersex individual over six years (2015–2020), from a mixed female–male phenotype to a predominantly male phenotype. Already at the first observation, typical male characteristics were present, such as greyish-white tail with two central curved black rectrices and a greenish tinge to parts of the head. The bird attained a more male-like plumage with the next moult and maintained that plumage for the rest of the study period. However, presence of female-patterned body feathers continued until 2019, but in reduced frequency, except for the cheeks and ear-coverts, which displayed a variation in colour. The bill remained female-patterned throughout and the bird did not enter eclipse plumage.
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