mallard Anas platyrhynchos
The mallard is a bird.
The male mallard has shiny green feathers on the head, a white ring of feathers around its neck, gray body feathers, brown chest feathers and violet-blue feathers in a patch on each wing. The female mallard has a brown-and-cream speckled appearance. Both the male and the female have a white tail, orange feet and a yellow bill.
A mallard is 20 to 28 inches long and weighs two to three pounds. The wingspan is 32 to 37 inches.
Some mallards live year-round in Illinois. Other mallards fly into Illinois from farther north in the fall to overwinter or fly through Illinois to overwinter farther south. These birds are mainly from Canada. In the spring, these ducks return to places farther north than Illinois to nest, although the year-round resident mallards do nest in Illinois. Mallards live in or around marshes, ditches, swamps, grain fields, ponds, rivers and lakes. This species is common in cities, too.
Aquatic plants, corn and other waste grains, grasses, seeds, small aquatic animals, earthworms, acorns and insects make up its diet.
Mallards form mating pairs in the fall but do not mate until spring. Nesting in Illinois takes place from April through July. Seven to 16 blue-green eggs per clutch are laid in a nest on the ground. The nest is lined with feathers, grasses and leaves. The female incubates the eggs. Incubation lasts 23 to 29 days. The female leads the ducklings to water within 24 hours after hatching.
Hawks, eagles, American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos), American mink (Neovison vison), foxes, coyotes (Canis latrans), raccoons (Procyon lotor), striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis), snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina), snakes, large fishes, cats (Felis catus), dogs (Canis familiaris), owls and gulls are among the animals that eat mallards, their eggs and their ducklings. Humans eat mallards, too.
Mallards are puddle ducks or dabbling ducks. These birds strain water for food at the surface and also “tip up” by submerging the front half of the body, sticking the tail toward the sky, to be able to reach other food items that are deeper in the water.
The female mallard makes a “quack” sound.
Mallards are unable to fly for about a month in late summer when they lose their flight feathers. They can fly again once the replacement feathers grow.
Mallards have been known to build nests in trees, on rooftops, in parking lots, near swimming pools, in window wells and in other locations.
In the winter, these birds fly away from water to feed in the early morning, return to the water to rest in the middle of the day, fly out again in the late afternoon to feed and return to the water to spend the night.
Can I Hunt It?