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Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos

Perhaps the most familiar of all ducks, mallards occur throughout North America and Eurasia in ponds and parks as well as wilder wetlands and estuaries.  Arguably the most easily identified duck, mallards have long been hunted for the table, and almost all domestic ducks come from this species.

The male birds (drakes) have a glossy green head and are grey on their wings and belly, while the females (hens or ducks) have mainly brown-speckled plumage. Both sexes have an area of white-bordered black or iridescent blue feathers called a speculum on their wings; males especially tend to have blue speculum feathers.

This species is the main ancestor of most breeds of domesticated ducks.

Photo: Richard Bartz


35.3-45.9 ounces


19.7-25.6 inches

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Mallards are generalist foragers and will eat a wide variety of food. They don’t dive, but dabble to feed, tipping forward in the water to eat seeds and aquatic vegetation. They also roam around on the shore and pick at vegetation and prey on the ground. During the breeding season, they eat mainly animal matter including aquatic insect larvae, earthworms, snails and freshwater shrimp. During migration, many mallards consume largely agricultural seed and grain. In city parks, they readily accept handouts from parkgoers.


Mallards can be found in almost any wetland habitats, including permanent wetlands such as marshes, bogs, riverine floodplains, beaver ponds, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, city parks, farms, and estuaries. They also occur in prairie potholes and ephemeral wetlands; they may be found feeding along roadside ditches, pastures, croplands and rice fields.


Ducks are strong fliers; migrating flocks of mallards have been estimated traveling at 55 miles per hour.

Family Structure

Mallards are social animals preferring to congregate in groups or flocks of varying sizes.

Did You Know?

The standard duck’s quack is the sound of a female mallard. Males don’t quack; they make a quieter, rasping sound.

Family Structure

Mallards are social animals preferring to congregate in groups or flocks of varying sizes.

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