A Mallard is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Mallards. We have also put together a list of fun Mallard t-shirts, Mallard bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.
About the Mallard Duck
The Mallard (Anas Platryhynchos) is the most common and wildly known wild duck in the world. The Mallard duck is the ancestor for most domesticated birds. This dabbling duck breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical areas of America, Eurasia, and North Africa and has been introduced to New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Falkland Islands, and South Africa.
Mallard Duck Color Pattern
Male Mallards have a green head and neck with a white ring at the bottom of its neck. It has a brown chest, whitish-gray undersides, brown wings, and a yellow bill.
Females and young Mallards, on the other hand, have a duller complexion. They have a brown plumage with brown and orange bills.
However, both sexes are adorned with blue speculum patch bordered with white on their wing.
Description and Identification
Go to a park to feed ducks, and you’ll likely find a Mallard or two right in the middle of the frenzy of ducks quacking and waddling their way toward you. Mallards are one of the most common and ducks in North America, and they are also present in Eurasia. The male has a shiny green head, and his sides and wings are grey. He also has a black tail-curl and white ring on his neck. The chest is brown, and the bill is yellow. Males and females feature brilliant blue patches on their wings with white stripes at the top and bottom. Females are mostly brown- and grey-speckled. They have a black strip running from the bill, past the eye, and down the side of the head. She also boasts white tail feathers.
Mallard Duck Size
Mallards are typically large ducks with rounded heads, wide and flat bills, and plump bodies. Being a dabbling duck, its body is quite long and its tail peeks out of the surface of the water.
The relative size for both sexes is:
- Length: 19.7-25.6 in (50-65 cm)
- Weight: 35.3-45.9 oz (1000-1300 g)
- Wingspan: 32.3-37.4 in (82-95 cm)
Mallard Duck Behavior
- Mallards are dabbling ducks; this means that they feed in water by leaning forward and nibbling on underwater plants.
- Upon completion of the mating season, Mallards located in colder areas are usually seen migrating in flocks to their wintering grounds.
- These birds are very tame makes very easy to domesticate them.
What Mallard Eat and their Food
A major chunk of their diet comprises of aquatic plants and their sedges. Occasionally, the Mallard will eat insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. This mostly occurs when they are young. Mallards aren’t that picky. They don’t dive to find their food. Instead, they tip forward to consume seeds and water plants. They forage around the shore and find prey and plants to eat. In the breeding season, their meals are composed mainly of water insect larvae, snails, freshwater shrimp, and earthworms. They also grub for roots. When they migrate, they eat mostly seed and grain. If they’re in a park, they’ll eat whatever snacks people want to share. Don’t give them bread, though, as it can be very harmful to ducks. It fills the duck up, which keeps it from finding healthier foods. If a duck eats too much bread, it can get angel wing, a twisting of its bones when it grows, which causes problems with flying. Feed them birdseed, lettuce, peas, or corn instead.
Where Mallards Live and their Habitat
The Mallard mostly lives in wetland habitats like marshes, lakes, swamps, rivers, streams, and ponds. Mallards live in all types of wetlands, including bogs, marshes, river floodplains, ponds, lakes, city parks, farms, estuaries, and reservoirs. You can also find them in prairie potholes and ephemeral wetlands, bays, and you’ll see them hunting for food in roadside ditches, pastures, and agricultural fields. They may be present in any aquatic habitat, but they especially like freshwater throughout the year. You won’t see them often on the coasts, but they do winter on sheltered bays and estuaries. They’re ubiquitous on prairie potholes in the summer and in the somewhat-open area north of the prairies. Most of them live in swamps and lakes in the Lower Mississippi Valley during the winter.
Range and Migration
The Mallard is present in large numbers all over the northern hemisphere. It is a wild duck species that many people can recognize on sight and the ancestor of most species of domestic duck. They breed in most parts of Canada and Alaska in the north and then head south during the winter. Mallards migrate towards the beginning of spring, and their autumn migration takes quite a while. Feral Mallard populations may live in some areas permanently, but wild Mallards are typically migratory throughout North America. Much of the region between California and parts of New England are home to Mallards during the year. You can also find Mallards in some parts of northern Mexico, especially outside breeding season.
Mallard Duck Lifecycle
The female mallard lays eight to ten eggs in a nest on the ground. These whitish and olive buff eggs take close to a month to hatch. Once they have hatched, the male Mallard will leave and the female will incubate her eggs. The ducklings are led to the water by their mother within a day of their hatching.
When mallards pair up, the male will dip his bill in water and then whistle and grunt after he rears up in a display. He raises his head and tail while sharply calling, and then he puts the front half of his body deep in water and flings up water with his bill. Both males and females look for and choose a nesting site together, which may be a mile or more from water. The shallow, bowl-like nests are usually on the ground, hidden by plants, but you can also find them on stumps, tree hollows, or other areas, like agricultural fields. Mallards sometimes put nests on floating vegetation clumps or weave them into plant stems that come out of the water.
Anatomy of a Mallard
Anatomy is the study of animals or other organisms and their parts. Bird Anatomy is the study of bird and their parts. Birds have beaks, wings, talons, feathers, and other parts that are important to learn about. Learning about bird anatomy will also help kids learn how to identify birds. We focus on the exterior, external, or outside anatomy of birds to help kids learn how to identify them.
Some other types of bird anatomy are the skeletal system, muscular system, circulatory system, respiratory systems, and digestive systems. Birds also have reproductive systems, nervous systems and immune systems. Birds are amazing creatures.
FREE PRINTABLE BIRD ANATOMY INFOGRAPHIC
Here is a fun printable design to help kids learns about BIRDS.
Below is a blank copy to test your kids on the bird anatomy of a BIRD
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Mallards
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Mallards are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Mallard Duck T-shirts
If you love the Mallard you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Mallard Duck Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Mallard is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Mallard Duck Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Mallard. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Perler Bead Pattern for a Mallard
We thought a fun perler bead pattern would be fun for kids. Please download and print with 100% scale to fit perfectly with perler bead patterns.
Bird Feeders For Mallard Ducks
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Mallard Ducks
There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.