|MadSci Network: Zoology|
Hi Jennifer, You will find the answer to your question in the information below. Be sure to follow all the links. Mallard Duck ( Anas platyrhynchos ) The mallard is the most common duck in North America. It is easy to tell the males from the female mallards. Most male mallards have grayish or brownish feathers, a green colored head, and a purple breast. On the other hand, the female is only brown and white and is maller than the male. The length of the normal mallard is about 50-60 cm. ( 20.5 -28 in.). Mallards molt in late spring or early summer. The males molt earlier than the females. The mallard duck is found mostly in North America and Northern Central America. They nest under boulders, in tree holes, in the crotch of trees, or in open areas. Mallards are omnivores. They eat various seeds including corn, wheat, barley, bulrushes, wild rice, primrose, willow, seeds of water elm, oak, hackberry, trees of swamps or river bottoms. They will also eat mollusks, insects, small fish, tadpoles, freshwater snails, fish eggs, and frogs. They usually feed at the surface of the water and are known as "dabbling ducks". They don't dive all the way under the water, but just tip their heads under to feed. To breed, the male attracts the female mate by ruffling his bright feathers. But the pair usually does not stay together for long. The male mallard, or drake, leaves the female when she begins incubation and forms a group with other males. Nine to thirteen eggs are laid at daily intervals. Incubation begins when the clutch is complete and lasts for 27 to 28 days. The ducklings all hatch within 24 hours, mostly during the day. Once they are hatched they are led to water. Mallards mature quickly and may breed under 12 months of age. Although mallard ducks have been known to live as long as sixteen years of age, most of them only live for one or two years. During the summer, mallards spend much time asleep on water banks. The mallard has only three defenses- swimming, flying, and camouflage, and it is prey to large mammals. Mallards have no defense against humans who are their biggest enemy. Many are killed by oil spills and pesticides. For other information go to: http://www.nysite.com /nature/fauna/mallard.htm h ttp://clab.cecil.cc.md.us/faculty/biology/Chesapeake/mallard.html http://www.fishing-in- wales.com/wildlife/birds/mallard.htm http://www.mbr.nbs.go v/id/framlst/i1320id.html http:// www.selu.com/bio/wildlife/bird/mallard/mallard01.html by Christyan Size: 50-70 cm (20-28 in) long. Color: The plumage of the male and female Mallard is quite different. The male has a green head, brown chest, small white neck band, brownish gray body, white outer tail feathers, and a violet-blue speculum (the secondary feathers located on the back inner portion of the wing). The female is a variable brown, and also has a violet-blue speculum. Other things to look for: This abundant species interbreeds with many other duck species, causing a high degree of variation in Mallard plumage (see similar species, below). Mallards begin to find mates as early as August prior to the breeding season, with most birds being paired by early January. Nesting normally begins in early to late April, with a peak in May. The female builds a nest of cat-tails (Typha) and other vegetation near the edge of a shallow pond, marsh, or lake. She lays 7-10 eggs, which she incubates for approximately 28 days. After incubation has begun, the male leaves the female and joins a male flock. The young are precocial. The female is left to care for the young by herself. Within 12 hours of hatching, she leads them to water. The female will continue to care for the young for 42-60 days after hatching. The Mallard eats plant material (seeds, grains, acorns, sedges, grass shoots), insects, and aquatic invertebrates. A surface feeder, it finds food in the water by "up-ending" (putting its head underwater and its tail end in the air) and by dabbling. It feeds on land by taking things from the ground. Both the male and female usually molt in late summer or early fall, which renders them flightless for around 33 days. The Mallard occurs extensively throughout North America. During the breeding season, it most often is found in the upper one-third of the continent. The Mallard is a resident in the northern United States all year, and is a winter resident in the South. The northern winter range in the United States is limited by availability of open, unfrozen water. Many escaped domestic Mallards breed in the wild in the eastern United States. Mallards are a game species in the United States, and hunting contributes to the mortality of this species. Some additional deaths have been caused by lead poisoning. Overall, this species is abundant. Many Mallard in the East are of domestic origin or have bred with domestic ducks. This interbreeding has caused a high degree of variation in Mallard plumage. The female Mallard would be more easily confused with other species than the male. One distinguishing characteristic of the female Mallard is its orange bill with black markings. Thanks for taking the time to send in a question to Mad Scientists June Wingert Mad Scientist
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