The Mallard, or Wild Duck (Anas platyrhynchos), probably the best-known and most recognizable of all ducks, is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the world including North America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand (where it is currently the most common duck species), and Australia. It is strongly a migratory bird. It is the ancestor of all domestic ducks, and can interbred with other species of Genus Anas. This interbreeding is causing both the Mallard and rarer species of ducks to become genetically diluted. The male birds have bright green heads, while the female is light brown. It is a noisy species – the male has a nasal call, while the female has a “quack” stereotypically associated with ducks.


Mallard drakes have bright green heads, while the female is light brown

The Mallard lives in wetlands, eats water plants or grazes. It usually nests on a river bank, but not always near water. It is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks, known as a sord. Mallards form pairs only until the female lays eggs, at which time she is left by the male. The ducklings are precocial, and can swim and feed themselves on insects as soon as they hatch, although they stay near the female for protection.


Mallard ducklings can feed themselves on insects as soon as they hatch.

Mallards are also causing severe “genetic pollution” of South Africa’s biodiversity by breeding with endemic ducks. The Mallard duck can cross breed with 63 other species and is posing a severe threat to the genetic integrity of indigenous waterfowl. The hybrids of Mallard and the Yellow-billed Duck are fertile and can produce more hybrid offspring. If this continues, only hybrids will occur and in the long term this will result in the extinction of various indigenous waterfowl.

Clutch: 8 to 13 eggs per clutch, up to 40 eggs a year over.

Incubation: 27 to 28 days

Fledgling: 50 to 60 days to.

Size: 0.9 to 1.2 kg