The Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is a common and widespread dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and sub-tropical areas of North America, Europe and Asia. It also frequents Central America and the Caribbean. It is probably the best-known of all ducks.
This dabbling duck is strongly migratory in the northern parts of its breeding range, and winters farther south. It is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks.
Adult birds are on average 56-65 cm in length. Breeding males are unmistakable, with a green head, black rear end and a blue speculum edged with white, obvious in flight or at rest. Males also possess a yellow bill with a black tip, whereas females have a dark brown bill. The females are light brown, with plumage much like most female dabbling ducks. They can be distinguished from other ducks, by the distinctive speculum.
In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female.
This bird can be found in wetlands, including parks, small ponds and rivers, and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing. It nests usually on a river bank, but not always particularly near water.
This is a noisy species. The male has a nasal call, whereas the female has the very familiar “quack” always associated with ducks.
Mallards frequently interbreed with the American Black Duck, Northern Pintail and domesticated species, leading to various hybrids.
Image Caption: Mallard in flight. Credit: Bert de Tilly/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)