Late duck hatch this year

Old Guys Rule

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Mallard hunting was excellent on the Willy this opening weekend. Not many local birds this year, two weeks ago there was nothing, but with all the early storms there are a ton of early migrants down now.

Two thirds of our birds were in eclipse plumage, you had to look very close so some birds to see they were drakes. Any body else see the same thing?
 

Old Guys Rule

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Still shooting late plumage birds. Even the adult birds had a late moult it seems but lots of juvenile birds that have pin feathers or still in late eclipse plumage. Shot a drake pintail this weekend that my buddy thought was a hen. Closer observation showed it to be a drake. Same with widgeon, lots of late hatch birds, if you don't know what to look for many young drakes look like hens. Most of the mallards are fully plumed now and some nice big adult birds but even mallards were late. Shot a big bodied drake this weekend, lots of fat, nice northern bird but yellow feet instead of orange and still some brown feathers.

What are others seeing?
 

blacktail

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Still shooting late plumage birds. Even the adult birds had a late moult it seems but lots of juvenile birds that have pin feathers or still in late eclipse plumage. Shot a drake pintail this weekend that my buddy thought was a hen. Closer observation showed it to be a drake. Same with widgeon, lots of late hatch birds, if you don't know what to look for many young drakes look like hens. Most of the mallards are fully plumed now and some nice big adult birds but even mallards were late. Shot a big bodied drake this weekend, lots of fat, nice northern bird but yellow feet instead of orange and still some brown feathers.

What are others seeing?

I am seeing the same exact thing, but I don't think I would consider it too unusual, especially for the sprig.
Lots of dirty drakes mixed in still.
 

waterswatter

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You might be right. We got 10 Mallards yesterday and all were small. Nowhere near the size of what I am used to. Idk...maybe they were all juveniles. I'll check retrices on the tail on my 3 birds to see if they are notched.
 

Old Guys Rule

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I shot a few big northern mallards this weekend. Two big adult drakes with bright orange feet that did not have much of a curl on the tail. I think everybody had a late hatch and moult. Averaging 70% juveniles this year, still seeing some not fully feathered.
 

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Last day of the season and I am STILL shooting immature birds that have not completely moulted. One bull sprig still had brown feathers on it's back and belly. Most birds look to be fully plumed but 3 out of 21 birds were not. Hope we have more water in the prairie potholes for an early nesting season this year.
 

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