Conservation Education and Science
Animal Facts & Photos  
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SCIENTIFIC NAME: Anas platyrhynchos
ORDER: Anseriformes
FAMILY: Anatidae
RANGE: North America, northern Africa, much of Asia
HABITAT: Shallow areas of freshwater lakes, ponds and marshes
DIET: Seeds, rootlets and tubers of aquatic plants

The mallard is a large dabbling duck. The male’s white neck-ring separates the green head from the chestnut-brown chest, contrasts with the gray sides, brownish back and black rump and upper and undertail-coverts. The speculum is violet-blue, bordered by black, and white and the outer tail feathers are white. The bill is yellow to yellowish-green and the legs and feet are coral-red.

The female mallard is a mottled brownish color and has a violet speculum bordered by black and white. The crown is dark with a dark stripe running through the eye. The remainder of the head is lighter. The bill is orange splotched with brown and the legs and feet are orange.

Mallards have one of the most extensive breeding ranges of any duck in North America, extending across the northern one-third of the U.S. up to the Bering Sea. The highest densities occur in the prairie pothole region of North Dakota into Canada, with nests placed on the ground, in tree holes or nest boxes in upland habitat near wetlands. Female mallards lay an average of nine eggs. The males behave protectively at first, but soon lose interest and leave to feed with other males.

Only female mallards quack. Males whistle and grunt.