Mallards

jane
This little guy is not actually a Mallard! He’s a florida mottled duck, which means the males look exactly like females. They’re pretty closely related, though. When they interbreed with pure Mallards the males start to get patches of silver and green on their heads.

Mallards, with the exception of Call ducks, are the fathers of all modern domestic ducks. This successful breed, much like wolves, retain many color variations in their genes which can be bred selectively. In the wild, it’s not uncommon to spot a wild white phase Mallard, which appears to be a pekin from a distance but is more slender as it has not been bred for meat or to be made into a pillow (yet).

malemallard
Mallards, being the original domestic duck stock, retain many instincts and behaviors of their wild counterparts. This means they are super buoyant, waterproof and strong flyers. They may also have an instinct to shy away from your hand the first time they hatch out and not enjoy being petted. With less docility comes heightened survival adaptations and intelligence. One of the drakes I had used to ride on my back when I went swimming in the lake. He later learned to live there with some other wild ducks. You can read more about them here .

Male mallards and their domestic counterparts tend to be very aggressive with females. Ducks and geese are unique in the bird kingdom. They are the only species to have evolved elongated male genitalia, and females, a protective labyrinth which allows them to select which sperm they would like to keep. Check out this hilarious video for more info (caution: explicit images!!), True Facts about Ducks. It’s not uncommon to see three or four males chasing one female. The female tests them by flying across the lake to see which ones are strong enough to keep up with her.

femalemallard

1 comment

  1. Joan February 1, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I have loads of those Florida mottled ducks in my backyard – sometimes up to 40 at a time which causes all sorts of chaos as they chase each other and have fights where they grasp each other’s beaks and see who can push harder! The ducklings all look the same to me but I can tell the adult males from the females by the color of their beaks. The males have brighter yellow beaks while the females have more mottled colored beaks.

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