- Taxon: Anseriformes, Anatidae
- Range: Mallards occur year-round throughout North America, but most individuals are migratory and breed in the northern United States and Canada and winter in the Southern United States and Mexico. Most of the breeding population occurs in the Prairie Pothole Region of the north-central United States and central Canada.
- Status: Not listed, low concern – In 2018, the breeding population size exceeded 10 million in the traditional and eastern survey areas of North America.
Mallards typically use shallow wetlands and lakes, but they will inhabit almost any freshwater habitat across the United States including marshes, wooded swamps, ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, and estuaries. Mallards primarily nest on the ground in grasslands, and broods may travel long distances between the nest and wetlands. In urban areas, mallards often nest in flower beds, along roadsides, and even on roof tops. They will use a wide variety of habitat resources for feeding and loafing, including pastures, croplands such as rice and corn fields, and even roadside ditches.
Mallards are generalists, meaning they aren’t picky and will consume a variety of foods including seeds, aquatic vegetation, aquatic insect larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They can be seen dabbling for food in shallow water but are also known to “dry feed” or eat food on land, especially in harvested agricultural fields. While migrating, they are known to feed heavily on agricultural seeds and grains.
Subject matter expert
- Heath Hagy, Waterfowl Ecologist, mailto:email@example.com
Designated critical habitat
This species is not listed as under the Endangered Species Act; there is no critical habitat designated.
Federal Register notices
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