Mallard

photo by Andrew McKinlay CC BY-NC

Mallard are large stout birds (20-26 in) and the most abundant, wide-ranging duck on earth. Male Mallard have a shiny green head and a bright yellow beak along with a gray body, a brown breast, and a black rear. Females are mottled brown with an orange-and-brown bill.

Mallard prefer grassy areas around ponds and marshes but can also be found on lakes, rivers, and in cities.

They can be found year-round in the United States and coastal British Columbia. In the summer, they can be found in Alaska and Canada (especially the Prairie provinces; they're less common in the Maritimes). In winter they migrate to the east coast and Gulf area of the United States.

Mallard feed by tipping forward and grazing on underwater plants (dabbling). They also eat grasses and grains on land. During breeding season, they eat mainly animal matter (worms, snails, larvae).

Did you know? A Mallard's nest site may be over a mile from water. Once the ducklings hatch, the hen will lead them to water.

See Also: Common Merganser, Goldeneye, Loon, Western Grebe, Wood Duck