It swims and quacks like a duck, but its look raises questions.
An unusual beige and white duck was spotted the past several weeks swimming with a group of mallards on Colby Lake. Runners and walkers who frequent the trail around the lake were baffled at the sight of it.
"I wasn’t even sure it was a duck," said Beth Neu, who spotted it while running around Colby Lake in October.
It was swimming with geese when she first saw it, Neu said. It was not until two weeks later she noticed it coupled with a mallard and realized it was a duck. Neu said she has never seen anything like it in the nearly 10 years she has run around the lake.
It appears to be a domesticated duck that escaped into the wild, according to Scott Lanyon, head of the department of ecology, evolution and behavior at the University of Minnesota.
It could also be a mallard hybrid, said Mark Bergland, chair of the biology department at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
“There are a lot of duck hybrids out there,” Bergland said.
Domesticated ducks come from mallards, so they are genetically compatible, he said.
Time is likely running out to get a glimpse of the duck. Mallards typically fly south in early winter to warmer areas along the Mississippi Alluvial Valley in search of food, according to the website for Ducks Unlimited, a wetland and waterfowl conservation group.
The duck has been spotted frequently along the shoreline next to the parking lot of Edgewater Park, and near the Colby Lake storm drain adjacent to Lake Road.