The Mallard is 50-65 cm (20-26 in) long with a wingspan of 81-98 cm (32-39 in), and body mass 0.72-1.58 kg. Breeding males have a glossy bottle-green head and white collar. They have a purple-tinged brown breast, grey brown wings, and a pale grey belly. The rear of the male is black, with the dark tail having white borders. The bill of the male is a yellowish orange tipped with black while that of the female is darker ranging from black to mottled orange. Female plumage is mottled with each individual feather showing sharp contrast from buff to very dark brown. They have buff cheeks, eyebrow, throat and neck with a darker crown and eye-stripe.
Habitat and Distribution
The Mallard is widely distributed from North America, southern and central Alaska to Mexico, the Hawaiian Islands, and across Eurasia, from Iceland and southern Greenland and parts of Morocco in the west, Scandinavia to the north, and to Siberia, Japan, and China in the east, Australia and New Zealand in the Southern hemisphere. It is found in fresh- and salt-water wetlands, parks, small ponds, rivers, lakes and estuaries, also shallow inlets and open sea within sight of the coastline. It is strongly migratory.
The Mallard’s diet is mainly made up of gastropods, invertebrates crustaceans, worms, many varieties of seeds and plant matter, and roots and tubers. It usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing; there are reports of it eating frogs.
Breeding begins in Spring. When seeking out a suitable nesting site, the female’s preferences are areas that are well concealed, inaccessible to ground predators, or have few predators nearby. The female lays eggs more than half her body weight in eggs. The clutch is 8-13 eggs, off white in colour, which are incubated for 27-28 days to hatching with 50-60 days to fledgling.
Calls and Songs
The female ‘s call is a duck ‘s quack sound. The male does not quack, he gives a quieter, rasping, one- or two-noted call.