Shannon Emmel’s favorite duck is the green-winged teal, so when she heard one had taken up home at Loch Raven Reservoir, she rushed to view him up close.
When she arrived, though, the very small duck was not alone. The green-winged teal had a girlfriend who was three times his size: a mallard. And he was doing everything he could to keep larger ducks away from his sweetheart.
“I discovered the green-winged teal, which was simple to recognize amid the mallards because he is so much smaller,” Emmel told The Dodo. “I found him literally following this one mallard all over the dirt and grass.” He followed her around and chased off other mallard males on occasion.”
The green-winged teal is one of North America’s tiniest ducks, yet this tiny fellow appears to understand that size isn’t everything. Green teals are quick and agile ducks who court their partners with elaborate dances and vocal displays that are far more energetic than the more laid-back approaches used by mallard drakes.
While it’s typical for green-winged teals to hang out with other green-winged teals and mallards to hang out with mallards, Emmel noticed that this star-crossed couple clearly had a special bond that transcended breed or family.
“It was the cutest thing I’d seen in a long time,” Emmel added. “The Green-teal appeared to be completely smitten with this mallard, so he followed her wherever she went.” They eventually walked into the water, and he stayed near by.”
“The female mallard seemed completely content with her little suitor,” she went on to say. “It was a pleasure to witness.”
Emmel isn’t the only one who has noticed this unusual couple. Other Maryland birders have been making special journeys to the reservoir throughout March to see the reservoir’s newest famous couple.
Crossbreeding in ducks is not unheard of, but it is extremely rare. But, with hope, these dedicated birds will lay a clutch of eggs this year, giving birth to some unusually lovely youngsters.
h/t: The DoDo