Anas platyrhynchos
Family Anatidae

* 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 feet.
* 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 in flight.
* Body and tail length: 20-28".

Natural History:
* 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 the ground.
* 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 populations.

* 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


Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005