Ty Hibbs was fortunate to have a once-in-a-lifetime encounter while duck hunting earlier this month. On this particular hunt, Ty would harvest the duck of a lifetime, a South American ringed teal.
From the outset, it would seem like his long-time hunting buddy, Paul Oliver, would take home the bulk of the bragging rights. Paul downed a duo of banded birds (including a double-banded gadwall) on the morning of Jan. 13 to add to his collection of waterfowl bands.
Ty was not to be outdone. As he recounts, the hunters were still looking to fill their daily bag limit when a group of five green-winged teal approached their spread. The hunters capitalized on the opportunity and dropped the whole group. Upon further investigation, however, they soon realized one of the ducks was different.
"It was kind of white on the face, almost like it was albino or something," Hibbs said. "I thought it might be a cinnamon teal hen."
It's not entirely unheard of for cinnamon teal to mix themselves in with other species of ducks like green-winged teal. Typically they stay out west, but every once in a while they are harvested in the Mississippi Central Flyway offering quite a mixed bag. Still, Hibbs was not convinced because he could tell that the coloring was not indicative of a hen. Hens are much more drab in coloring and this bird was vibrant.
It was clearly not a cinnamon drake, though, so what could it be?
"We started doing research on our phones in the blind, and found out it was a South American ringed teal," Hibbs said. "We were freaking out. I've never seen anything like that in my life."
After more and more research the hunters finally got in touch with officers from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. This was the confirmation they'd been waiting for. Hibbs rare bird was properly identified and the authorities confirmed it was, in fact, a South American ringed teal.
In celebration of this incredible rarity, Ty has plans to have the bird mounted along with a blue-winged teal and a green-winged teal.