Is it a maloose or a goolard?
Hybrid goslings of mallard ducks and a goose are fluttering about Mair Park in Whangārei, enjoying perfect duck weather.
It follows the arrival of a lone goose a few years ago who, after a prolonged settling in period, has finally seen mating with the ducks lead to several mallard-goose hybrid offspring.
Native Bird Recovery Centre birds' expert Robert Webb said people dumping unwanted fowl had led to unusual combinations of hybrid bird species.
"People drop off their unwanted geese in the Mair Park. This gives birth to very different looking birds of weird colours and sizes.:"
Webb said the cross-breeding had less impact across those species that were widespread but altered diversity in species with smaller numbers.
Whangārei District Council Parks Technical Officer Spencer Jellyman said the goose was believed to have moved in a few years ago.
"It certainly doesn't seem to be causing any harm and if these latest reports of interbreeding are correct then it would appear it has been very well accepted by the local duck population."
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Jellyman says Mair Park has long been home to a resident population of wild mallard ducks and feeding the ducks was a popular attraction at the park.
Victoria University of Wellington research associate Dr Murray Williams said hybrids across birds of different breeds was unusual and breeding even rarer among those from wider evolutionary lineages.
He said a swan and goose hybrid was called a swoose and suggested a mallard and goose hybrid could be a moose.
"Although given the name is also applied to a big four-legged huge antlered beast, perhaps maloose might be a fallback name."
With regards to the characteristics of the offspring, Dr Williams suggests that it would look different from other goslings in the brood "if it was the result of a sneaky one-off insemination".
"I am presuming that the hybrid is a mallard drake over the goose, which is the more likely given the mallard drake's fondness for screwing anything with two legs and a feathered back.
"Young goslings are quite pale-faced and with a pale back, mallard ducklings have a conspicuous dark strip through the eye, a dark head and back."