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Mallard Duck Information, Photos, Artwork & Facts

The Mallard Duck flies in a V-formation in order to have the lead bird break the headwinds and lower the resistance for the others. The mallard reminds us that we accomplish more if we work together.

The Mallard Duck (Anas platyrhynchos) is the most common wild duck in the Northern Hemisphere. With the male’s iconic green head which gleams in the sun, the mallard is one of the most breathtaking species of waterfowl in the world. American Expedition is proud to present information, interesting facts, and photos of the Mallard Duck.


  

Mallard Duck Information

From fall to spring, breeding male mallards, also known as “drakes,” will sport a remarkable green iridescent plumage on their heads with a white band around their necks. Female mallard ducks, also known as “hens,” have less dynamic mottled brown to tan plumage. Both sexes of mallard ducks have a white and blue speculum along the back edge of their wings.

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Each summer, after the 4 to 5 month mating season has ended, male mallard will molt their feathers, and they will be left with a brown plumage like their female counterparts. In the fall, male mallards will undergo a second molt, after which their distinct coloration will return. The outer feathers of ducks are waterproof. Ducks have a special oil producing gland near their tail that spreads and covers their outer coat of feathers. Beneath their waterproof layer of feathers, ducks have a layer of fluffy and soft feathers called down which keep them warm in cold temperatures.

A mallard measures about 18-27 inches in length and has a wingspan of approximately three feet. They are excellent endurance fliers, flying at sustained speeds of up to 40 miles per hour under their own strength. With a strong prevailing tail wind, they may travel 800 miles in 8 hours. Mallards usually fly at altitudes between 400 to 2,000 feet, but have been spotted much higher and have even got into crashes with commercial airliners above 20,000 feet.

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Mallards choose new mating partners each fall, staying together throughout the winter and into the spring mating season. Once mating season has ended, the male mallard moves away from the female. A female will build a nest out of breast feathers and twigs near a body of water. It will then lay a clutch of as many as 13 eggs and incubates them for a month. Once the ducklings hatch, they are immediately taken to water for safety. Mallard ducklings are precocial, meaning they know how swim and feed right after they are hatched. The ducklings will follow their mother for the next 50 to 60 days, maturing and developing their ability to fly. Male mallards have no involvement in caring for their offspring. Ducks reach breeding age after a year, and can live 5-10 years in the wild.

Painting of a Mallard Duck mother with her ducklings.   

Mallard Duck Facts

  • A common nickname for the male mallard is “greenhead.” A common nickname for the female mallard is “Suzy.”
  • Mallard ducks will usually form pairs in October and November, and will stay in pairs until the end of breeding season, which occurs in early March and extends into late May.
  • Female ducks have a tendency to breed near the place where they were hatched.
  • After mating season, males move away from female ducks to join other males for molting, leaving females to care for the offspring.
  • Female mallards may lay up to half their body weight in eggs.
  • A group of ducklings is called a “brood.”
  • Mallards will store up fat before beginning migrations. They may lose between 20 and 50 percent of their body weight during a migration.
  • During migrations, mallards will often stop for rest in locations they have visited before.
  • It is estimated that there are currently around 10 million mallard ducks of breeding age in North America. There are more mallard ducks in North America than on any other content.
  • Ducks have webbed feet, which they use for paddling beneath the water. Their feet have no nerves or blood vessels, which mean that they won't feel chill from swimming in icy water.
  • The mallard is considered the ancestor of most domesticated ducks.
  • Mallards frequently interbreed with ducks in the genus Anas, and also with distantly related ducks like the Northern Pintail.
  • During an eight hour flight, migrating mallards are capable of traveling up to 800 miles.
  • Mallards usually fly at an altitude of 400 to 2,000 feet, but have been found at much greater heights.

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  • During the lead up to migration season, a mallard will put on weight to store up energy for the journey ahead.
  • Mallard ducks are omnivorous.
  • Male mallards do not quack, but instead make a noise that sounds like “kreep.” 

Mallard Duck Habitat

Mallard ducks can be found in the Northern Hemisphere throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. Most mallard ducks are migratory birds, flying south to temperate climates during the winter, and northwards in the summer to nesting grounds. Mallards prefer wetlands near water sources with an abundant supply of food and cover. They can be found in many types of habitats throughout the country including lakes, rivers, streams, small ponds, swamps, marshlands, and water reservoirs.

What Do Mallards Eat?

A mallard’s diet consists of aquatic vegetation, insects, worms, and grain crops like wheat and corn. A duck can dip its head under the water and forage for plants on the bottom. This is the feeding technique it prefers and executes most often.

  

Mallard Duck Hunting Tips

  • Mallard ducks are one the most popular species of waterfowl to hunt. Mallards can be legally hunted in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
  • Get to the blind pre-dawn. Although patterns vary in different areas, mallard ducks usually start flying at daybreak.
  • Don’t forget a shotgun and shells!
  • Setting up decoys on the hunting ground is the key to attracting ducks your way.
  • Mallards have excellent eyesight, so sit or lay in a camouflage blind in order to stay hidden.
  • Use duck calls to lure the birds in. It is important to practice calling because ducks possess outstanding auditory perception. If the sounds you are making do not match what the duck actually sounds like, they will change direction and not land on your water.
  • Some hunters have trained dogs, usually labs, to fetch the ducks after shooting them. Dogs are a great asset because most of the time the ducks will fall into the water, where you would then have to either use a boat or wade in to get them. It is important to train the dog to be well behaved while in the duck blind. An antsy or noisy dog will result in an unsuccessful hunt.
  • It is more challenging to hunt in late season. Ducks are intelligent birds, so they become suspicious of decoys and calls.
  • Collect the dates of mallard season. Hunting off-season is illegal and can result in a fine, the suspension or loss of equipment, or even jail time.
  • Check your state laws to find what permits you need to have in order to hunt ducks. Most states require a small game permit, a state migratory bird permit, and a federal bird hunting stamp. Along with these, you must also have a hunting license. It is illegal to hunt without these.

The above video shows Mallard Ducks bobbing for food.

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A female mallard duck with cute ducklings.

Ducklings stay close to their mother during their first 10 days, swimming and walking together as a group.

A mallard duck flying.

Mallard Ducks typically fly at speeds between 40 to 60 miles per hour during migrations.

A mallard duck in a pond with a reflection.

Mallard Ducks are the most common ducks in North America.

A mallard duck in flight.

A mallard may lose a large percentage of its body weight during migration.

A mallard duck in a lake with a reflection.

Mallards use their webbed feet like paddles under the water.

A pair of mallard ducks in flying in formation.

A mallard duck can cover as much as 800 miles per day while migrating.

A mallard duck touching down on land.

During migrations, mallards will often stop for rest in locations they have visited before.

A male mallard duck flying to a female mallard.

Mallards typically form pairs during the breeding season.

A female mallard duck with a bunch of ducklings.

Mallard ducklings are precocial, meaning they know how swim and feed right after they are hatched.

A male mallard duck landing on snow.

During migrations, mallards will often stop for rest in locations they have visited before.

A male mallard duck lifting his wings..

Male mallards do not quack, but instead make a noise that sounds like “kreep.”

A group of mallards on the water.

A common nickname for the male mallard is “greenhead.” A common nickname for the female mallard is “Suzy.”

A mallard duck eating food.

A mallard’s diet consists of aquatic vegetation, insects, worms, and grain crops like wheat and corn. A duck can dip its head under the water and forage for plants on the bottom.

Mallard Duck Facts & Information
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