The Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is one of the most commonly seen wild ducks.
Mallards are medium-sized ducks, normally weighing around 1.25kg. The length is c. 50cm and the wingspan c. 90cm.
The male mallard is distinguished by the metallic green colour of its head with a white ring around the neck. The body is brown with a purple/blue speculum on the side. The beak is yellow and the legs orange. The male has some distinct curled feathers above the tail. The female is less conspicuous. She is overall brown with a purple/blue speculum on the side. The legs are orange.
The mallard is common throughout Europa, Asia, Africa and North America. They can be migratory.
Mallards are very adaptable and can live anywhere where there are shallow fresh water, such as lakes, ponds, marshes or canals.
Mallards eat seeds, pond weeds and aquatic plants. Sometimes they also take small animals such as snails and insects. They are 90% vegetarian. They feed by dabbling. They tip their body forwards, turning their tail into the air, and forage for food at the bottom.
In the spring, at the beginning of the breeding season, the female chooses a nesting site. It is usually close to water, but not necessarily immediately adjacent to water, and well hidden below vegetation. She lays 5-12 eggs, one a day, and starts to incubate them when all are laid, so they will hatch at the same time. After a week of incubation the male abandons the nest, and the female continues alone. After about a month the ducklings hatch and soon after the mother leads them to the closest water for feeding.
The ducklings are downy and brownish. They stay together with their mother for some time, but feed themselves on plants, seeds and small animals. After some ten weeks they have grown a plumage similar to the females, they can fly and their mother has abandoned them.
Mallards are capable of jumping out of the water directly into the air.
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