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Mallard

Anas platyrhynchos

Dabbling Ducks Family

Waterfowl Identification

 
Male Mallard
male
Female Mallard
female
Similar Waterfowl:
None
Description:
The mallard is one of the most recognized of all ducks and is the ancestor of several domestic breeds. Its wide range has given rise to several distinct populations. The male mallard's white neck-ring separates the green head from the chestnut-brown chest, contrasts with the gray sides, brownish back, black rump, and black upper- and undertail coverts. The speculum is violet-blue bordered by black and white and the outer tail feathers are white. The bill is yellow to yellowish-green and the legs and feet are coral-red. The female mallard is a mottled brownish color and has a violet speculum bordered by black and white. The crown of the head is dark brown with a dark brown stripe running through the eye. The remainder of the head is lighter brown than the upper body. The bill is orange splotched with brown and the legs and feet are orange.
Typical Size:
The male averages 24 ½ in. with the female at 23 in. The weights are 2 ½ lbs. and 2 ¼ lbs. respectively.
Habitat:
Mallards are found in dry agricultural fields, shallow marshes, and oak-dominated forested wetlands.
Breeding:
Mallards have one of the most extensive breeding ranges of any duck in North America. Mallards extend across the northern one-third of the USA, and up to the Bering Sea. The highest mallard densities occur in the prairie pothole region of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, and North Dakota, with nests placed in upland habitat near wetlands on the ground, or in tree holes or nest boxes. Female mallards lay an average of 9 eggs.
Diet:
Mallards feed on seeds and roots.
Migration:
Mallards migrate along numerous corridors, but the greatest concentrations move from Manitoba and Saskatchewan through the Midwestern USA to the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Mallards winter throughout the USA, with highest densities typically recorded during winter surveys along the Mississippi Flyway from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to the Gulf of Mexico. Among the dabbling ducks, mallards are one of the latest fall migrants. They also have the most extended migration period, which lasts from late summer to early winter.
Flyway Patterns:
The mallard duck is most commonly found throughout the Mississippi flyway corridor.
Flight Formation:
Wide chevron or long line. The flight speed is 65 MPH.
Voice:
Males have a low KWEK-KWEK and females have a loud QUACK.

Mallard Flight and Plumage Characteristics

This guide will help you recognize mallards on the wing - it emphasizes their fall and winter plumage patterns as well as size, shape, and flight characteristics. Mallards (often called "greenheads") are our most common ducks and found in all flyways. They winter primarily in the lower Mississippi basin and along the gulf coast, but often stay as far north as open water permits. Flocks usually feed in nearby harvested fields during early morning and late afternoon, returning to marshes and creeks at night. Their flight is not very rapid.

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