BIRD OF THE WEEK / WEEK 23: June 4, 2018

 

© Liron Gertsman

Bird

Mallard Duck

Species Name

Anas platyrhynchos

Appearance

50-65 cm length | 82-98 cm wingspan | 720-1580 gm weight

A medium-sized, stocky, dabbling duck with short legs and a longish neck. They are usually slightly heavier than most other dabbling ducks

The drake has an iridescent-green head and neck ending with a white ring at the base of the neck. The chest and back is brown and the wings, sides and below are light grey-brown. Their tail feathers are white, the bill yellow and the legs and feet orange. The hen is mottled brown with a darker brown eye-stripe and an orange bill. In eclipse plumage the male looks similar to the female. Both male and female have iridescent-blue-purple speculum feathers edged in white

Habitat / Behaviour

Omnivore | Wetlands, rivers, lakes

The mallard is highly versatile and is found in a diverse range of habitats spanning from the Arctic tundra to subtropical regions. They make use of wetlands, ponds, rivers, lakes, estuaries and inlets

The mallard is an opportunistic omnivore, adapted to a wide range of food sources. The majority of its diet consists of beetles, flies, lepidopterans, dragonflies, caddisflies, crustaceans, worms, roots, tubers and a variety of other plant and animal matter

Breeding

Monogamous | ground nest | 8-13 whitish eggs | 1-2 broods

The female lays more than half her weight in eggs. She is abandoned by the male shortly after the eggs are laid as he makes his way to the moulting site with other males. Mallards are brood parasites, laying eggs in the nests of other birds. They are also frequently the target of brood parasitism from other species like the redheads, ruddy ducks, lesser scaup, gadwalls, northern shovelers, northern pintails, cinnamon teal and common goldeneyes. Mallard chicks are preyed upon by raptors, mustelids, corvids, snakes, raccoons, opossums, skunks, turtles, large fish and both wild and domesticated felids and canids

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