This species used to be known as ‘the wild duck’ without any further qualification, and the term ‘mallard’ was restricted to the drake bird. It is our commonest types of duck, despite the fact that wary in the wild in the breeding-season, or perhaps in wildfowling districts in winter, wildness isn’t its outstanding characteristic, when ever it senses safe surroundings it rapidly becomes tame.
Thus the hand-fed birds which frequent many urban pools in winter may, very few weeks previously, happen to be genuinely wild, in the free and nervous a feeling of that word. Since among animals trust, like fear, seems a contagious emotion, without doubt the presence of already tame ornamental species helps the rapid adjustment such conditions.
The mallard is really a typical ‘dabbling’ duck, feeding either from the surface or simply below without diving, as well as in shallow water frequently ‘up-ending’ to feed from the bottom; however it can also feast upon dry land which is a regular gleaner of stubbles, often by night, and frequently many miles from water.
Its inclination to nocturnal activities makes up about the fact that an excellent part of the day appears to be spent, especially if a sanctuary for example an islet can be obtained, in sleeping, preening or sun-bathing. It’s a powerful flier, as well as in winter visitors from northern and eastern Europe augment our resident population. It’s also the ancestor of most kinds of domestic ducks, and where the latter get access to waters frequented by mallard (and the other way around) interbreeding often occurs.