With its iridescent green head, gray body, and black tail-curl, the male mallard duck is one of the most familiar ducks in North America. It has a wide distribution, ranging throughout North America and Eurasia and is not only found in a variety of natural habitats like lakes, reservoirs, ponds, and rivers, it is also a common resident or visitor to parks and urban ponds. While some can become resident and live year-round in an area, most migrate north for the summer breeding season. Migrating flocks are strong fliers, reaching speeds of up to 55 miles per hour!
Mallards have the classic duck characteristics: large bodies, round heads, and wide, flat bills. Males (drakes) have a gray body and yellow bills and females (hens) and juveniles are mottled brown with orange-brown bills. Both sexes have a blue iridescent wing patch bordered in white.
As dabbling ducks, they tip their body forward into the water to feed on underwater plants and seeds. They are generalists, meaning they feed on a wide variety of foods like aquatic invertebrates and larvae, earthworms, snails, freshwater shrimp, as well as agricultural seed and grain.
Mallards are not only the most widespread and abundant duck in the world, they are also the most heavily hunted species of North American ducks. About one out of every three ducks harvested is a mallard.
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This small songbird can be identified by its yellowish chest and can be found in the old fields on our refuge.