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The mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is a duck of the family Anatidae which means it is in the family of dabbling ducks. These ducks mainly on the surface of the water. The mallard is an incredibly common bird that is found widespread across the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
The mallard bird has incredible adaptability, allowing this bird species to breed across different habitats and even around human beings. This duck breeds easily with wild ducks, resulting in mixed breeds of birds which might cause indigenous duck populations to be wiped out. As the parent breed of most domesticated ducks, the mallard is sometimes kept for food or for its eggs. However, mallards are territorial and cannot be contained unless their wings are clipped. They will live happily in the city and in urban areas near water like parks, ponds, farms, or even backyard pools.
The mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is classified among the dabbling ducks of the family Anatidae.
Mallard ducks are birds so they belong to the class Aves.
The numbers of mallards in the world are not monitored. This is because the mallard duck breeds easily and abundantly and is found across the world. There has been no reason to count the number of adults of this bird species because they are so common.
Mallard ducks live in saltwater and freshwater wetlands, lakes, ponds, estuaries and other shallow water. In fact, this duck is an invasive species in many places and is the ancestor of most domestic ducks except Muscovy ducks.
Mallard ducks are spread across the world, in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. These birds prefer temperate to sub-tropical climates, but their incredible adaptability means that they have been found across different habitats as long as they are near water. In North America, mallards are found from Alaska to Hawaii. They are the most common ducks in the group of North American birds.
In South America, they are found in Mexico. In Eurasia, they are found from Iceland to Scandinavia, in Britain, Siberia, Japan, and South Korea. They are also found in Morocco in Africa. In the Southern Hemisphere, mallard ducks are found in both Australia and New Zealand. Mallards are migratory and end up in really odd places around the world as a result of this migration.
Mallards are able to adapt because they are not picky about their food. These birds have evolved to eat anything that can be hunted from the surface of the water. They eat snails, beetles, dragonflies, greens, crustaceans, worms, roots, and tubers.
Mallard ducks like to congregate in flocks, even flying out for the winter in their groups. These flocks may be of different size depending on the wetlands. During breeding season, they live in nesting pairs, with the male and female mallard ducks staying monogamous for the season. They do not mate for life, but stay with a partner for one breeding season.
Mallard ducks have a wide range when it comes to their lifespan. Mallards live anywhere from three to 20 years.
In fall, mallard ducks form pairs, and nest together for their breeding season. Female mallard ducks attract male mallards with inciting behavior. Both the males and females become very aggressive at this time and will drive off other ducks and waterfowl from their nests. The pairs of mallards will nest together for the entire winter, leading into spring. The nesting season starts in spring which is when the female lays around 13 white or greenish eggs without any speckles.
The nesting sites of mallards are hidden away in vegetation or hollows of trees and other hideaways, usually near the ground. In a month’s time, the eggs hatch. After 50-60 days, the baby ducks will be able to fly. Like all birds, baby ducks need to learn how to fly, but these baby birds are able to swim almost immediately.
The conservation status of mallard ducks is Least Concern because there is an increase in population levels and no immediate threats to their numbers.
Male and female mallard ducks look quite different. The males have a distinctive dark green head, bright yellow bill, gray body, brown wings with blue splotches, and dark tail. Female mallard ducks are brown and speckled, and not very noticeable. This allows them to blend in when nesting and protec their nests and ducklings from predators and other wildlife.
As the ancestor of most domestic ducks, the mallard is quite cute.
The 'quack-quack' sound commonly associated with ducks is because of female mallard ducks who make this sound. The males make low whistles, or low, quiet sounds. Female mallard ducks also hiss if they feel threatened.
Mallard ducks have a length range of 19.7-25.6 in (50-65 cm). In comparison, the American black duck has a length range of 18-24 in (45.7-61 cm). This means that mallard ducks are about the same size as American black ducks in length.
Mallard ducks can fly in a range of 40-50 mph (64.3-95 kph).
Mallard ducks weigh between 2.20-2.86 lb (1-1.3 kg). In comparison, harlequin ducks only weigh about 19 oz (0.53 kg) which makes mallard ducks almost twice the size of harlequin ducks in a weight comparison.
Male mallards are called drakes and female ducks are called hens or simply, ducks.
Like all baby ducks, baby mallard ducks are called ducklings.
As a species, mallard ducks are not picky about their food. They are omnivores that eat everything they can catch from the water’s surface.
They feed on snails, slugs, shrimp and other crustaceans, worms, beetles, bugs, vegetation, seeds, roots, and tubers. Mallards are opportunistic about their feeding habits and this allows them to live in a variety of habitats.
Mallard ducks have adapted to urban and rural human areas remarkably well. They can be kept for food or for their eggs and are harmless to human beings. However, mallards will attack if they feel like you are threatening their nests.
Despite how common they are and being the ancestor of domesticated ducks, mallard ducks are still wild. These birds can be kept, but their wings will need to be clipped to make sure they don’t fly off during their regular migration dates. Mallards can also get really aggressive and territorial so you should be careful around their nests.
Mallard ducks sleep with one eye open as this helps them to avoid predators and other dangerous wildlife. This behavior is also observed in other birds.
Male mallard birds are aggressive in nature, especially to other waterfowl, but do not typically kill their own ducklings. The exception is breeding season which begins just before winter.
Sometimes during breeding season, male mallards might find the ducklings a threat to their ability to mate with their mother. In such cases, they will start expressing aggressive behavior to the ducklings and kill them to get a chance to mate with the female.
If hand-raised from ducklings, mallard birds are extremely affectionate and playful birds. They chatter and love to play in backyard pools and will be very protective of their people. Much like dogs, mallards also wag their tails when they are excited.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these red-headed woodpecker facts and bearded vulture facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Mallard duck coloring pages.
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