Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
Status: Resident breeder, winter visitor, naturalized releases
Breeding birds: 61,000-146,000 pairs
Wintering birds: 710,000
Conservation status: Amber
Length: 50 – 62 cm
Wingspan: 81 – 98 cm
Weight: 850 – 1500 g
Mallards are large, heavy looking ducks with a long, broad bill. Male mallards have a metallic dark green head, a purple-brown breast, white neck ring and grey body. Females have a brown body with an orange bill. Both sexes have an iridescent purple-blue speculum with white edges.
During the summer, the drake moults and looks very similar to the female.
Female mallards make nests from leaves and grasses lined with down plucked from her own breast. They prefer to nest near water and will build a nest covered in vegetation or in a hole in a tree. In towns, mallards have been known to build nests in wood piles, old crows nests, hay stacks, roof gardens and balconies.
Mallards lay 7-16 eggs which are smooth and waxy and pale blue or pale green. They incubate for 28 days and when hatched the ducklings will stay in the nest for about 10 hours to dry off. Their mother will then lead them to water. Ducklings take about 50-60 days to fledge and become independent.
Mallards are dabbling ducks and will forage near the water surface for seeds, plants and invertebrates. The will occasionally eat fish.
Where to see them
Mallards live throughout the UK and are to be found in most wetlands as well as urban areas where there are ponds or rivers.
Did you know?
All species of domestic duck descend from mallards except for the Muscovy duck.