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Browse our Q&A about birds, eggs, nests, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals of the Central Coast and Channel Islands.

What kind of duck is this?

This duck is a new resident at Alice Keck Park. You can see how long his neck is. When he stands up, he is very straight upward holding his head high in the air. Not scooched over like regular mallards. I’ve searched the internet trying to find out what kind of duck this is with no luck. I am hoping that someone at the museum will recognize it, or maybe know someone else who might be able to help.

Many thanks in advance!


Santa Barbara resident and weekly park visitor

Gretchen, Santa Barbara - November 25, 2023

Curator Response

Dear Gretchen,

We are not poultry farmers here at the Museum, but this looks to me like the Indian Runner, a domesticated duck breed known for the upright stance you noted. So if you’ve been looking among wildlife resources, it’s no wonder you’ve been out of luck finding an ID.

At Alice Keck Park Park, much of the “wildlife” is feral, including the abundant Red-eared Slider turtles (not a local species but a popular pet trade animal). Sometimes you see a lot of physical variation in the ducks there because of the way different domesticated breeds can hybridize. They can freely breed with each other because they are mostly the same subspecies of mallard, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus.

Many domesticated and popular pet-trade species are now found all over the world, in part due to people “setting free” their pets. Unfortunately, in many places, rapidly reproducing feral animals outcompete native species and cause harm to ecosystems. If you tell your friends about the interesting duck breed you saw at the park, please also help us to spread the word that abandoning pets in the wild has unintended consequences for animals.

Stay curious,

Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Krista Fahy, Ph.D.