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( Anas platyrhynchos )
The mallard is the most common duck in North America. It is easy to tell the males from the female mallards. Most male mallards have grayish or brownish feathers, a green colored head, and a purple breast. On the other hand, the female is only brown and white and is maller than the male. The length of the normal mallard is about 50-60 cm. ( 20.5 -28 in.). Mallards molt in late spring or early summer. The males molt earlier than the females.
The mallard duck is found mostly in North America and Northern Central America. They nest under boulders, in tree holes, in the crotch of trees, or in open areas.
Mallards are omnivores. They eat various seeds including corn, wheat, barley, bulrushes, wild rice, primrose, willow, seeds of water elm, oak, hackberry, trees of swamps or river bottoms. They will also eat mollusks, insects, small fish, tadpoles, freshwater snails, fish eggs, and frogs. They usually feed at the surface of the water and are known as "dabbling ducks". They don't dive all the way under the water, but just tip their heads under to feed.
To breed, the male attracts the female mate by ruffling his bright feathers. But the pair usually does not stay together for long. The male mallard, or drake, leaves the female when she begins incubation and forms a group with other males. Nine to thirteen eggs are laid at daily intervals. Incubation begins when the clutch is complete and lasts for 27 to 28 days. The ducklings all hatch within 24 hours, mostly during the day. Once they are hatched they are led to water. Mallards mature quickly and may breed under 12 months of age. Although mallard ducks have been known to live as long as sixteen years of age, most of them only live for one or two years.
During the summer, mallards spend much time asleep on water banks. The mallard has only three defenses- swimming, flying, and camouflage, and it is prey to large mammals. Mallards have no defense against humans who are their biggest enemy. Many are killed by oil spills and pesticides. (Info from http://www.k12.de.us/warner/mallard.htm)
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