Mallards are widespread around the world, and our wetland area is no exception. This species of dabbling duck is at home here nearly year-round. There are a few weeks in the early fall when it appears that Mallards are nowhere to be found. However, I think they remain… but are being secretive.
Why the need for secretive behavior?
According to All About Birds.com:
“Mallards, like other ducks, shed all their flight feathers at the end of the breeding season and are flightless for 3–4 weeks. They are secretive during this vulnerable time, and their body feathers molt into a concealing “eclipse” plumage that can make them hard to identify.”
Secretive behavior is not the case right now… winter is a time many species hunker down, but not Mallards. These two sets of Mallard couples paired up in the fall (could that be what they were up to when flight was not an option?); winter, to them, is for courtship!
Ever wonder what duck couples are doing on evening low flights, when they circle over the wetland habitat? They most likely are looking at real estate. Before spring breeding season, the two will search for a nest site. Mallards prefer a place near the water on the dry ground where the female can make a shallow bowl-shaped depression in the earth. When finished, her nest is concealed by over-hanging grass or vegetation. It is about 12 inches in diameter, with a bowl for the eggs that is 1-6 inches deep and 6-9 inches across. During breeding season, Mallards generally produce 2 broods of 1-13 eggs.
You will know who is vocalizing out on the pond, or in the wetland by the sound of the calls…
“Quack!!! Quack, quack, quack!” That’s the female.
Rasping- without any quacking… That’s the male. Sorry, Donald, male ducks don’t quack!
Want to know more about Mallard Ducks? Visit Science Behind this post:
All About Birds: Mallards