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Bird  Mallard Ducks

Mallard Duck (male) - Photo  Copyright 2000 Gary Bradley
Photo: G. Bradley

UK Safari Tip:
Get help identifying wetland birds with the beautifully illustrated fold out ID chart in the Nature shop - click here

Latin name: Anas platyrhynchos

Size: Grow to around 55cms in length.

Distribution: Throughout the UK.

Months seen: All year round.

Habitat: Ponds, lakes, rivers and reservoirs.

Food: Aquatic plants and insects.

Special features: This is one of the commonest ducks in Britain. In urban parks they are quite tame, and will take bread from the hand. In rural areas they are a little more shy. Mallards have a habit of feeding with their tails in the air and their heads under the water. This is called up-ending, or dabbling.

The male (above) has a yellow bill, an iridescent green head, a white collar and chestnut brown breast.

The female (below) is various shades of brown all over to provide camouflage when raising the young. There is also a blue patch on each wing, bordered by two white stripes. The bill is an orange-brown colour. The chicks, which are usually born in April and May, are coloured yellow and brown.

This female mallard (above) at Doncaster appears to be ferrying at least five of her nine ducklings.

Females often nest away from water - on buildings or up in trees.  Although this provides some safety for the chicks, it often means they have a dangerous walk back to the water.

It's possible you may spot one of the many hybrid mallards, such as the Khaki Campbell.  They look like a mallard, but with subtle differences.  These are the result of years of domestication and cross-breeding.

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  2006 G. Bradley. All Rights Reserved