The Mallard or Wild Duck (Anas platyrhynchos) is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New Zealand and Australia. This duck belongs to the subfamily Anatinae of the waterfowl family Anatidae.
Mallard courtship begins in the fall and by winter pairs will have formed. If a pair is part of a migrating group, the pair migrates to the female's territory.
The mallard is about 20-28 inches in length and has a wingspan of about three feet. It has a blue patch on the top side of its wings with a white line around it.
Typically nests on the ground in thick grass or shrubs, but also may build nests in hollow trees, on top of duck blinds, or use an old nest of another bird. Migration: driven by the availability of open water.
Female gives series of loud, descending quacks for which mallard is known. Male less vocal; shorter, soft quack is often drowned out by the calls of the females.
Being omnivorous in food habits, the diet of this fowl consists of aquatic plants, seeds, tender stems, leaves etc. In the absence of food, these ducks feed on insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish eggs and snails. Domesticated ducks can be fed grains, oats, barley, and spinach.
The distinctive feature that differentiates the male and female mallard ducks is the color of their bodies. The male duck or drake has a green colored head with a yellow bill. The male ducks are also called greenheads.
Mallard ducks are excellent endurance fliers, flying at sustained speeds of up to 40 miles per hour under their own strength. With a strong prevailing tail wind, they may travel 800 miles in 8 hours.
The breeding range of the mallard stretches across the northwestern portion of the Northern Hemisphere from Alaska and Greenland south to Virginia and northern Texas, dipping slightly into northern Mexico. Primarily, the wintering area of the mallard lies in the lower half of the Mississippi Valley, although some of the more hardy birds will spend the winter as far north as open water permits.
The mallard is a medium-sized duck commonly seen throughout Connecticut. Mallards are dabbling ducks and feed by tipping forward to submerge their heads and necks. The male or "drake" is recognized by its glossy, green head and white neck-ring. It has a yellow bill, rusty breast, and white tail. The female is mottled brown and has an orange-yellow bill and a whitish tail. Both have orange feet and a blue speculum (patch on their wing) framed with a white bar on each side.
Mallards usually fly at altitudes between 400 to 2,000 feet, but have been spotted much higher and have even got into crashes with commercial airliners above 20,000 feet.