* Males have glossy, green heads with a white neck ring, a grayish or
chestnut-colored chest, a white tail, a yellow bill, and orange webbed
* Females have mottled brown feathers, a whitish tail, an orange-patched
bill, and orange feet.
* Both sexes have violet bars on their wings, which are visible only
* Body and tail length: 20-28".
* Habitat: Freshwater marshes, wooded swamps, ponds, rivers, lakes, bays,
flooded grain fields and meadows. Nests are hidden in tall herbaceous
vegetation near water. Eggs are greenish-gray to brown and laid on
* Range: Throughout most of North America. Winters in southern North
America and Central America.
* Voice: Males emit a yeeb or a low kwek, while females
are easily recognized by their energetic quacking.
* Behavior: Mallards eat aquatic vegetation, insects and insect larvae,
snails, other aquatic invertebrates, and seeds (they love the acorns
on the Wellesley College campus!). They are sometimes poisoned by lead
shotgun pellets that have settled to the bottoms of ponds and bays. You
might hear a mallard called a dabbling duck because it feeds from the
water's surface by tipping its tail up and head down into the water.
However, mallards do not dive to feed.
* Native, but introduced in Europe.
* If you think mosquitoes are bad in the summer, thank mallards that
the bugs aren't more numerous; mallards feed extensively on mosquito
larvae in the spring and therefore help to slow the growth of mosquito
* Mallards could keep up with traffic on most major highways;
they can fly up to sixty miles an hour!
* Robert McCloskey published his now-classic children's book, Make
Way for Ducklings, in 1941. The book is about a mallard
family and is set in Boston Common - go there today and look
for the duck sculptures!
Approved by NR