Anas platyrhynchos
Range Map

Mallards are one of the most common ducks in the northern hemisphere. They are perhaps the most recognizable ducks in the world. Most domesticated ducks can trace their ancestry to this bird. Mallard drakes are sexually aggressive and will force copulation on to any hen from the genus Anas, producing fertile hybrid offspring and confusing the gene pool of otherwise purebred ducks. Mallards are highly adaptable in their choice of habitat and their diet. They can exploit many regions, both rural and urban, from tropical to tundra, and consume both animal and plant food sources.

Vocally, it is easy to distinguish the hen from the drake. Males offer a quiet “wak-wak-wak-wak” sound, while the females issue those raucous, almost angry sounding “WAAACK-WACK-WACK-Wack-wak” calls most of us hear. Perhaps she is angry. She is the only member of the breeding pair to take responsibility for raising the babies.

Taxonomists recognise two subspecies of Mallard:

  • A. p. platyrhynchos lives across Eurasia (except Greenland and the Arctic), and in Eurasia to northern Africa and southern Asia. We find them in North America, from Canada to northern Mexico, and in the Greater Antilles. We have introduced them widely in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • A. p. conboschas lives in Greenland.

My meetings with Mallards have been throughout much of Western North America, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Wyoming, and in Canada’s Alberta and Yukon provinces.

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