Photographer David Hauer spotted this unusually colorful female Mallard in the North Basin. At least three males surrounded her. David looked the species up in Wikipedia, and found a passage that might have been written about this exact bird: “Owing to their highly ‘malleable’ genetic code, mallards can display a large amount of variation, as seen here with this female, who displays faded or ‘apricot’ plumage.”
The reference to “malleable genetic code” points to the Mallards’ propensity to interbreed with other species of ducks, with or without their consent, producing numerous hybrids and color variations, including this “apricot” variety. Not all the results are pleasing to the human eye; see for example “Mixed Mallard,” Sept. 18 2021.
I’ve found some Mallard females quite beautiful, even if not as vividly colored as Ms. Apricot. In 2018 I saw one that resembled a cream puff (“Another Unusual Mallard Female,” May 17 2018) and another that reminded me of an artful tapestry (“A Beautiful Mallard Female,” ).