Mallard

Photo by CJ Baldwin


Mallards are found throughout North America, and are probably the most well-known species of wild duck. The male is very colorful, with an iridescent green head and white collar, while the female’s coloring is brown-streaked to help her blend into her surroundings while she in incubating her eggs. The mallard has only three defenses: swimming, flying, and camouflage, and is prey to large mammals.

Behavior
Mallards have one brood per year, averaging 8-12 young. The nest is placed in dense vegetation to avoid detection by predators. Mallards leave the nest soon after hatching, and are then led to water. They mature quickly, and are ready to fly within two months.

Bottom feeder?
Mallards are often seen with just the tips of their tails sticking out of shallow water as they feed on plants and small animals found at the bottom. Their diet includes aquatic vegetation, small fish, insects and mollusks. They will also eat grain and berries.

Threats to Mallards
Mallards are the most sought-after game duck in the United States. Each year they make up one-third of the total of North American ducks killed by hunters. They are also (along with other waterfowl) prone to lead poisoning from ingesting spent lead shot that has landed in the water.

Ladies Only
The quack-quack-quack sound we associate with ducks is made by females only. The male makes a short, whistling call during courtship.

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