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Anas platyrhynchos

(duck)

Overview

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Mallards, the ancestor of almost all breeds of domestic ducks, are the most recognized and widely distributed waterfowl in the world. Occupying fresh and brackish waters, especially in wetlands, they also utilize agricultural fields near water as habitat . They are dabbling ducks which means they do not dive underwater for food but feed at or just below the surface, upending in shallow water to get at morsels in the mud bottom .

Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Afrikaans:

Groenkopeend

Common Names in Dutch:

Wilde Eend

Common Names in English:

duck, Mallard, Common Mallard, common wild duck, curly-tail, domestic duck, english duck, French duck, gray duck, gray mallard, green-headed duck, greenhead, mallard duck, mallard ducks, Mexican duck, New Mexican duck, Northern Mallard, stock duck

Common Names in French:

canard colvert

Common Names in German:

Stockente

Common Names in Hebrew:

ברכייה

Common Names in Italian:

Germano reale

Common Names in Japanese:

マガモ

Common Names in Russian:

Kryakva, Кряква

Common Names in Spanish:

Anade real, Azulón, Pato de collar

Common Names in Swedish:

Gräsand

Description

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Physical Description

Adult Female: Face : Facial Skin : orange Bill: orange and black mottled Legs : Leg Color: orange Wings : Speculum: metallic blue-violet with white borders Tail: white.Adult Male: Head : shiny green Face: Facial Skin: orange Bill: yellow Neck: Collar : narrow white ring Body: Back: gray brown Breast: purple chestnut Color: pale gray Sides: white Underparts: white Legs: Leg Color: orange Wings: Speculum: metallic blue-violet with white borders Tail: white Shape : 2 curled up black tail feathers..

Habitat

These birds require shallow water habitats for feeding such as streams , ponds , lakes , marshes, swamps , wetlands, and flooded fields . The water can be fresh or brackish . Although not a preferred habitat, these birds are seen in saltwater marinas but not in the open ocean. They also need dry land for nesting and resting. In Southern California they can occasionally be found nesting in urban gardens under shrubbery.

Vegetation: freshwater lakes and ponds, freshwater marshes • Maximum Elevation: 1,000 meters • Foraging Strata: Water • Center of Abundance: Lower subtropical: lowlands, lower than 500 m.; subtropics. • Sensitivity to Disturbance: Low

Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 3,215 meters (0 to 10,548 feet).[1]

Ecology: Behaviour In temperate regions breeding populations of this species are sedentary or dispersive, often making local movements during severe weather5. Other populations are fully migratory2 with females and juveniles leaving the breeding grounds in the western Palearctic from Septemberand returning as early as February5. The species breeds between March and June3 in single pairs or loose groups1 although the exact timing varies with latitude3. While the females are incubating4 (from mid-May)5, 6 the males gather3 in small flocks and migrate to moulting areas6 where they undergo a flightless moulting period lasting for c.4 weeks5 (females moult near the breeding grounds)6. Outside of the breeding season the species can be found in small to very large flocks3 numbering up to several hundreds or even thousands of individuals7 especially when moulting5, on migration7 and during the winter2. The species may also roost both nocturnally and diurnally in communal groups when not breeding8. Habitat The species occurs in almost every wetland type1 although it generally avoids fast-flowing, oligotrophic1, 5, 7, deep, exposed, rough, rockbound waters and hard unvegetated areas such as rocky ground , sand dunes and artificial surfacing7. It requires water less than 1 m deep for foraging7 and shows a preference for freshwater habitats3 although it may frequent shallow brackish waters as long as they provide the cover1, 5 of submerged, floating, emergent or riparian vegetation, dense reedbeds or overhanging branches7. Habitats commonly frequented include flooded swampy woodlands, seasonal floodlands7, wet grassy swamps and meadows, oxbow lakes6, open waters with mudflats , banks or spits , irrigation networks , reservoirs , ornamental waters1, 5, 7, canals and sewage farms7. During the winter the species may also be found in saline habitats along the coast3 where water is shallow, fairly sheltered and within site of land7 (e.g. brackish lagoons7, brackish estuaries1, 7 and bays1). Diet The species is omnivorous and opportunistic1, 7, feeding by dabbling in water and by grazing on the land7. Its diet consists of seeds and the vegetative parts of aquatic and terrestrial plants (e.g. crops )1, as well as terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates (especially in the spring and summer) such as insects, molluscs , crustaceans, worms and occasionally amphibians and fish1. Breeding site The nest is a shallow depression7 or bowl of vegetation that can be situated in many different locations such as within vegetation on the ground, in natural tree cavities1 up to 10 m high (Africa)8, under fallen dead wood , on tree stumps6, under bushes8 and even in abandoned nests of other species (e.g. herons or crows)6. Nests are generally placed close to water2 although occasionally they may be some distance away3. Management information "Extensive" grazing of wetland grasslands (c.0.5 cows per hectare ) was found to attract a higher abundance of the species in Hungary19. Studies in Danish coastal wetlands found that the spatial restriction of shore-based shooting was more successful at maintaining waterfowl population sizes than was the temporal restriction of shooting, and therefore that wildfowl reserves should incorporate shooting-free refuges that include adjacent marshland in order to ensure high waterfowl species diversity20. The cyclical removal of adult fish from an artificial waterbody (gravel pit ) in the UK resulted in an increase in invertebrate food availability and an increase in the growth of submerged aquatic macrophytes, which in turn led to an increased use of the habitat for brood rearing by the species26. The removed fish (dead or alive) were sold to generate funds26. The species will also nest in artificial nest boxes1, 8 [2].

List of Habitats:

[more info]

Biology

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Diet

The diet of mallards consists mainly of vegetation (floating, submerged, and emergent), but also includes aquatic invertebrates such as worms, mollusks, and arthropods . They eat seeds of wild rice, pond- weeds , water elm, and oaks, and visit agricultural stubble fields to dine on leftover grain. They also eat people food fed to them by humans in parks, at lakes , etc. This is usually bread which is not good for them.

Mallards have several eating strategies. They feed at the water’s surface by straining water through their bill, upend in shallow water to reach deeper food items either below the surface such as submerged plants or in the mud such as snails. Walking on land , they pick up food with the nail of their bill or strip seed heads and foliage with the bill's edge .

Taxonomy

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Similar Species

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Members of the genus Anas

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 99 species and subspecies in this genus:

A. acuta (Northern Pintail) · A. acuta acuta (Northern Pintail) · A. acuta drygalskii (Northern Pintail) · A. acuta eatoni (Northern Pintail) · A. albogularis (Andaman Teal) · A. americana (American Wigeon) · A. andium (Andean Teal) · A. aucklandica (Auckland Islands Teal) · A. aucklandica aucklandica (New Zealand Brown Teal) · A. aucklandica nesiotis (Campbell Island Flightless Teal) · A. bahamensis (White-Cheeked Pintail) · A. bahamensis bahamensis (White-Cheeked Pintail (White-Cheeked)) · A. bahamensis galapagensis (White-Cheeked Pintail (Galapagos)) · A. bernieri (Bernier's Teal) · A. capensis (African Cape Teal) · A. carolinensis (Green-Winged Teal) · A. carolinensis carolinensis (Green-Winged Teal) · A. castanea (Chestnut Teal) · A. chlorotis (Brown Teal) · A. clypeata (Northern Shoveler) · A. crecca (Green-Winged Teal) · A. crecca carolinensis (Green-Winged Teal (American)) · A. crecca crecca (Green-Winged Teal (Eurasian)) · A. crecca nimia (Aleutian Green-Winged Teal) · A. cyanoptera (Cinnamon Teal) · A. cyanoptera cyanoptera (Cinnamon Teal) · A. cyanoptera septentrionalium (Cinnamon Teal) · A. diazi (Mexican Duck) · A. diazi novimexicana (New Mexican Duck) · A. discors (Blue-Winged Teal) · A. discors discors (Blue-Winged Teal) · A. discors orphna (Blue-Winged Teal) · A. drygalskii (Crozet Pintail) · A. eatoni (Eaton's Pintail) · A. erythrorhyncha (Red-Billed Teal) · A. falcata (Falcated Duck) · A. flavirostris (Yellow-Billed Teal) · A. flavirostris flavirostris (Yellow-Billed Teal (Flavirostris)) · A. flavirostris oxyptera (Yellow-Billed Teal (Oxyptera)) · A. formosa (Baikal Teal) · A. formosa georgi (Spectacled Teal) · A. formosus (Spectacled Teal) · A. fulcigula (Mottled Duck) · A. fulvigula (Mottled Duck) · A. fulvigula fulvigula (Mottled Duck (Florida)) · A. fulvigula maculosa (Mottled Duck (Gulf Coast)) · A. fulvigula x platyrhynchos (Mottled Duck) · A. georgica (Yellow-Billed Pintail) · A. georgica georgica (Yellow-Billed Pintail (South Georgia)) · A. georgica spinicauda (Yellow-Billed Pintail (South American)) · A. gibberifrons (Sunda Teal) · A. gibberifrons gibberifrons (Sunda Teal) · A. gracilis (Gray Teal) · A. hottentota (Hottentot Teal) · A. laysanensis (Laysan Duck) · A. leucophrys (Ringed Teal) · A. luzonica (Philippine Duck) · A. marecula (Amsterdam Duck) · A. melleri (Meller's Duck) · A. nesiotis (Campbell Islands Teal) · A. oustaleti (Anjouan Island Sparrow Hawk) · A. penelope (Eurasian Wigeon) · A. platalea (Red Shoveler) · A. platyrhynchos (Mallard) · A. platyrhynchos conboschas (Mallard) · A. platyrhynchos diazi (Mallard (Mexican)) · A. platyrhynchos platyrhynchos (Mallard (Northern)) · A. platyrhynchos Rouen duct (Mallard) · A. poecilorhyncha (Indian Spot-Billed Duck) · A. poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha (Indian Spot-Billed Duck) · A. puna (Puna Teal) · A. punctata (Pacific Black Duck) · A. querquedula (Garganey) · A. rhynchotis (Australasian Shoveler) · A. rhynchotis rhynchotis (Australasian Shoveler) · A. rubripes (American Black Duck) · A. sibilatrix (Chiloe Wigeon) · A. smithii (Cape Shoveler) · A. sparsa (African Black Duck) · A. sparsa sparsa (African Black Duck) · A. specularioides (Crested Duck) · A. specularioides specularioides (Crested Duck) · A. specularis (Bronze-Winged Duck) · A. strepera (Gadwall) · A. strepera couesi (Gadwall (Coues's)) · A. strepera strepera (Gadwall (Common)) · A. superciliosa (Pacific Black Duck) · A. superciliosa pelewensis (Gray Duck) · A. superciliosa superciliosa (Gray Duck) · A. theodori (Mauritian Duck) · A. undulata (Yellow-Billed Duck) · A. undulata undulata (African Yellow-Billed Duck) · A. versicolor (Silver Teal) · A. versicolor versicolor (Silver Teal) · A. waigiuensis (Salvadori's Duck) · A. waigivensis (Salvadori's Duck) · A. wyvilliana (Hawaiian Duck) · A. zonorhyncha (Eastern Spot-Billed Duck) · A. zonorhyncha zonorhyncha (Eastern Spot-Billed Duck)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Notes

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Contributors

Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 28, 2007:

Identifiers

Footnotes

  1. Mean = 1,204.240 meters (3,950.919 feet), Standard Deviation = 1,341.080 based on 796 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
  2. BirdLife International 2009. Anas platyrhynchos. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 January 2012. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-04-14