Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Status: No special status.
Size: 20 to 25 inches in length, 30 to 40 inch wingspan, weight 38 to 44 ounces.
Area: Northern Hemisphere.
Offspring: Eight to twelve eggs.
Predators: Birds of prey, cats, dogs, raccoons, opossums, skunks, weasels, martens.
· The mallard is the best-known and most abundant wild duck in the Northern Hemisphere.
· Agile fliers, mallards can take off almost vertically.
· Mallards have been known to breed with other species of ducks.
· Mallards can fly extremely quickly, at speeds of up to 60 mph.
· The mallard was first bred in captivity by the ancient Egyptians.
· The females have a louder quack—males more often whistle or grunt.
Mallards are very familiar ducks, with their beautiful plumage. The males are distinctive with their bright, shiny green heads, yellow beaks, orange legs and the striking patch of blue on the wing. The females are slightly smaller and also have orange legs and a patch of blue, but the rest of their colouring is more subdued, with specks of brown and beige, and a dark beak. Mallards eat a variety of food, including both water and ground vegetation as well as worms and insects. They forage on land but also in the water, and although they rarely dive beneath the surface, they often tip forward so that the body is pointed straight down under the surface of the water, search out food with their beaks. They eat mosquito larvae, and are therefore helpful in keeping the mosquito population in check. Mallards migrate south in flocks when the weather begins to get cold, but return in March or April. They usually build a nest on the ground on high ground nearby a lake or marsh.
Mallards are found around the world, mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and Asia. They live in the wetlands, by marshes, lakes, rivers or ponds, where they can find both aquatic and land vegetation for food.
Mallards pair up in fall and are typically monogamous. The female, or hen, lays her eggs within their nest and approximately a month later, the ducklings hatch, all within the same 24-hour period. The ducklings are able to swim soon after hatching, and the hen leads them all towards the water as soon as their soft little bodies are dry. They do not return to the nest. They follow their mother on land and water and will begin to fly in about two months. Mallards usually live 5 to 10 years in the wild, but can live up to 15 to 20 years. The oldest recorded captive mallard was 29 years of age.