Mallard - Anseriformes Anatidae Anas platyrhynchos


Identification & Description:

• Large dabbling duck
• Male with iridescent green head, rusty chest, and gray body.
• Female mottled brown.
• Blue speculum with white bar along both leading and trailing edges
• Silvery-white wing linings
• Juvenile similar to adult female
• In the southwestern United States the "Mexican Duck", formerly a separate species, has both sexes similar to the female Mallard
• Size: 50-65 cm (20-26 in)
• Wingspan: 82-95 cm (32-37 in)
• Weight: 1000-1300 g (35.3-45.89 ounces)

Adult male alternate:
• Alternate plumage worn from fall through early summer
• Gray back
• Yellow bill
• Green head
• White ring around neck
• Chestnut breast
• Gray flanks and upperwing coverts
• Black undertail coverts contrast with white tail

Adult male basic:
• Similar to adult female, but usually with chestnut breast and an unmarked yellowish bill

Adult female:
• Orange bill with black central patch
• Pale brown face
• Dark cap and eye line
• Mottled brown and tan plumage

Similar species:
Adult male in alternate plumage is unmistakable. Females, immature and eclipse-plumage males could be confused with Black Ducks, Gadwalls and Mottled Ducks, but note the blue speculum with white borders on both sides. Gadwalls are also distinctive in their steeper forehead, gray bill with orange edges and white belly patch. Hybrid Mallard x Black Ducks are often seen and are darker than Mallards, with a more purple speculum bordered by white on one or both edges and usually show some traces of the Mallard plumage.

Life History Groupings
• Migration Status: N/A
• Breeding Habitat: Wetland-open water
• Clutch Size: 6-15
• Length of Incubation: 28(26-30) days
• Days to Fledge: 42-60
• Number of Broods: 1
• Diet:
Almost Exclusively: Plant Matter
Lesser Quantities of: Aquatic Invertebrates

• The Mallard is the ancestor of nearly all domestic duck breeds (everything except the Muscovy Duck). Many of the domestic breeds look like the wild birds, but usually are larger. They are variable in plumage, often lacking the white neck ring or having white on the chest. Feral domestic ducks breed with wild Mallards and produce a variety of forms that often show up with wild ducks, especially in city parks.

• The widespread Mallard has given rise to a number of populations around the world that have changed enough that they could be considered separate species. The "Mexican Duck" of central Mexico and the extreme southwestern United States and the Hawaiian Duck both are closely related to the Mallard, and in both forms the male is dull like the female. The Mexican Duck currently is considered a subspecies of the Mallard, while the Hawaiian Duck is still given full species status.

• Mallard pairs are generally monogamous, but paired males actively pursue forced extra-pair copulations. Copulation between members of a pair usually takes place in the water after a long bout of elaborate displays. Forced copulations are not preceded by displays, and several males may chase a single female and mate with her.

• Mallard pairs form long before the spring breeding season. Pairing takes place in the fall, but courtship can be seen all winter. Only the female incubates the eggs and takes care of the ducklings.

Other Names
Canard colvert (French)
Pato de collar (Spanish)

The mallard belongs to the family Anatidae of the order Anseriformes. It is classified as Anas platyrhynchos.

Mallard, common name for one of the most widespread species of wild duck, from which most domestic ducks are descended. The mallard, found throughout the northern hemisphere, is about 60 cm (about 2 ft) long. The adult male is grayish brown above and has a chestnut breast and white abdomen; its head and throat are greenish black, and a white collar encircles its neck. The back feathers of the female are dark brown edged in buff, and her underparts are buff spotted with dark brown. The bill of the male is greenish-yellow; that of the female is orange-yellow mottled with black. Both sexes have orange legs. The bird eats invertebrates and plants and is valuable in the wild for destroying mosquito larvae. The down-lined nest of the mallard is built near ponds or in grassland. The female alone cares for the eight to ten young.

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