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.

Haunts :

Widespread and varied, without any marked preference for just about any one type or size water-very similar to moorhen in variable, but always water-based, selection of haunts. Large flocks after breeding, later augmented by winter-immigrants, prefer larger sheets of water-lakes, reservoirs, estuaries and coastal waters.

Appearance :

On water chief options that come with drake are glossy dark-green head, white collar, plum-coloured breast, finely patterned pale-grey back, and speculum (colour-patch on wing) iridescent purple-blue bordered on both sides by monochrome. Female brownish, however with same distinctive speculum. On land orange-red feet conspicuous. Flying wing-pattern surest way of separation using their company wild duck of similar size.

Voice :

Well-known ‘quack’ is female’s call; male utters more nasal and prolonged ‘quek’. A cheerful, subdued chattering ‘kek-kek-kek-kek-kek’ common when feeding, but can also be preliminary to alarmed take-off.

Food :

Mainly vegetable-seeds (including grain, beechmast and acorns), duckweed, shoots leaving of both land and water-plants; animal food includes earthworms, slugs, snails, insects, frogspawn, tadpoles and frogs.

Nesting :

Ground-sites well hidden beneath reed-tussocks or undergowth; however in some districts crowns of pollard-willows much used. Chief feature of nest is abundance of speckled down, intermingled with dead leaves or grass; clutch often loosely concealed by down before incubation begins. 8-12 eggs, varying from greenish-blue to greenish-buff.