During a recent visit to Ballard Park in Tupelo, MS, I took several photos of ducks- mallards, muscovies and this one crested duck. I had never seen a crested duck before, nor knew they existed, so I was surprised to see this duck with the poufy hair-do. It was quite interesting to me- the duck appeared to have just stepped out of a hair salon with its fancy coif. Albeit cute and different, I wondered if the unusual head feathers were caused by some type of deformity.
A brief online search informed me that this is a crested duck, a descendant of the domestic mallard. The crest is actually caused by a genetic mutation which causes a duck to be born with a gap in its skull. The gap is filled with a growth of fatty tissue, and it is from this growth that the pouf of feathers sprout.
The crested gene in these ducks is linked to a lethal condition during incubation. Ducklings carrying both genes (homozygous) for the crest do not survive to hatch. Of those that do hatch, about 1/3 of them will not have crests. Crested ducks come in a variety of breeds and colors, and the crest size can range from skimpy to a full exhibition size. The only two crested breeds of ducks that are recognized by the APA are the White Crested Duck and the Black Crested.
This is my first post for the "Wild Bird Wednesday" meme, hosted by Stewart at Paying Ready Attention- Photo Gallery.