The green head and yellow bill of the Mallard Duck is a familiar sight to many people living in the Northern hemisphere. Mallards prefer calm, shallow sanctuaries, but can be found in almost any body of freshwater across Asia, Europe, and North America. They’re also found in saltwater and brackish water and are commonly found in wetlands.
Male – The male Mallard duck has a metallic green head and neck with a narrow white ring on the lower neck, a reddish-brown breast, brown/grey back, and pale grey abdomen and flanks. The rump and tail coverts are black, the center of the tail is black and curled upwards and the sides of the tail are white. The speculum is blue-purple bordered by black and then white feathers. The beak is yellow or olive-green, and legs and feet are orange.
Female – The female Mallard is a mottled brown color with the purple, black, and white bar on the wings. The female also has a pale eyebrow with dark stripe through the eye, a dark crown and hind neck, and olive-brown beak.
Eclipse – The male in eclipse plumage is similar to the female but has a darker crown and nape, and a redder breast.
Size: – Typical Adult is 22-26 inches.
Food: – Mainly aquatic vegetation, also occasional aquatic insects, and tadpoles.
Habitat: – Wetlands, parks, rivers, and ponds. Widespread in northern hemisphere and also found in Australasia.
Breeding Season: – April to June.
Eggs: – 10 to 12 (greenish white color).
Notes: – The Mallard duck is the most common duck and is widespread in the northern hemisphere. The Mallard, a dabbling duck, is the ancestor of almost all of the varieties of domestic ducks. Mallards frequently interbreed with their closest relatives leading to various hybrid ducks.
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.