When Taylor Broussard and a couple of buddies went out for a duck hunt near Pecan Island, he was the only one who reacted when a teal buzzed their boat blind early on the morning of Dec. 1.
“It was a single. It just came flying through kind of close and I was the only one who saw it. He surprised us coming from the right,” said Broussard, 23, of Estherwood. “I pulled up and shot, and killed it right there. It was like 4 feet from the blind when it hit the water.”
But when Broussard, Donavan Smith and guide Dylan Terro got a closer look, they all quickly realized it wasn’t a blue-wing or a green-wing — it was a duck that nobody had ever seen before.
“We were just guessing that it was a bunch of different ducks mixed together at first,” said Broussard, who rodeos professionally and also works with his dad at Acadia Crawfish. “Then whenever we got back, we started Googling and trying to find out.
“But I didn’t know any difference when I shot. I just saw a duck.”
What Broussard hit was actually a drake ringed teal, a small duck common to South American forests in Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay.
In full plumage, the drake has a rich chestnut back, pale gray flanks and a salmon-colored breast speckled in black — although Broussard’s bird appears to still be molting.
“It has a weird scar on it like it might have been shot before in the middle of its beak,” he said. “You can see that a BB hit it, but there’s not a hole or anything.”
Larry Reynolds, the waterfowl study leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, confirmed the ID by email, and said the birds are popular with zoos and aviaries, and suspects it’s likely an escapee.
But without a band, no one will ever really know where it came from or what it was doing near Pecan Island — which makes for a great story for Broussard, who already delivered the teal to his taxidermist in Lafayette.
“This is the first time he’s ever mounted one of those. He was excited ....” Broussard said. “I thought it was just a mutt duck.
“I’ve never shot anything different than the regular ducks from around here.”