Audubon "Birds of America"

Mallard Ducks
 Size 19.5 x 27 inches

Mallard Ducks – Plate Reference #221
The ubiquitous Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos, is a familiar sight to most of us. Though it prefers shallow ponds and marshes for its habitat, it is capable of turning up on almost any unfrozen body of water in our area at any time of the year. The drake is easily identified as a Mallard most of the year by its bright iridescent green head, rich brown breast, white neck ring, yellow bill, and pale gray body. The hen Mallard, though, can be confused with the American Black Duck, Anas rubripes, a declining but still fairly common bird. These two closely related species are nearly identical in size, structure, and voice, but, with practice, even female Mallards can be readily distinguished from Black Ducks by their plumage. The American Black Duck is found in habitats similar to the Mallard’s, but tends to be somewhat warier of humans, and so favors more secluded areas. Though outnumbered by Mallards at all times of the year here, Black Ducks become more common relative to the Mallard in migration seasons and in winter, when more northern breeding populations of Black Ducks migrate south.

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