head, white neck ring, chestnut breast, and
grayish body; inner feathers of wing
(speculum) are metallic purplish blue,
bordered in front and back with white.
Female mottled brown with white tail and
purplish-blue speculum; mottled orange and
Habitat From ponds, lakes, and marshes
to small river bends, bays, and even ditches
and city ponds.
Nesting Mallard courtship starts in the fall,
and by midwinter pairs have formed. Mated
pairs migrate northward together, heading for
the female's place of origin.
8-10 light olive-green eggs in a down-lined
nest often placed some distance from water,
occasionally even in a tree.
The male stays with the female until
incubation is well underway, then leaves to
join a flock of other males to begin the annual
Range Breeds from Alaska and Quebec
south to southern California, Virginia, Texas,
and northern Mexico. Winters throughout
United States and south to Central America
and West Indies. Also in Eurasia.
Voice Male utters soft, reedy notes; female,
a loud quack.
Discussion The Mallard is undoubtedly
the most abundant duck in the world. Nearly
10 million live in North America, and millions
more are found in Eurasia.
Since the Mallard is the ancestor of the
common white domestic duck, still more can
be added to the total. Mallards frequently
interbreed with domestic stock, producing a
bewildering variety of patterns and colors.
They also hybridize with wild species such as
the closely related American Black Duck and
even occasionally with Northern Pintails.