I was watching some mallards at Wood Lake Nature Center this week. As I took note of how far they were in their eclipse plumages (male mallards resemble females in their late summer molt, they lose their flight feathers and need to blend in rather than fly away from predators). Some are almost complete, while others still have a bit to go. Both birds in the above photos are male mallards but at different stages in their molt.
You can really see the shiny green feathers of the male's head just creeping out--a bright contrast to the duller brown feathers. But as I was watching the mallards, I thought back to a link several people have sent me in recent days.
And once you have seen that, you can't think of mallards in any other way. Observe:
Now I see dog masks on every male mallard beak.