Quack male or female ducks

Latin: Anas platyrhynchos
English: Mallard
French: Canard colvert
 
Class: Birds
Order: Ducks
Family: Duck relatives
Subfamily: Ducks
Size: up to 65 cm
Habitat: on almost all waters
The male drake of this duck, which is most common in Europe, is easy to recognize by its iridescent green head, yellow beak and brown chest. The inconspicuous female has brown speckled plumage. When it lifts the wings slightly, the rear edge of the wings appears, the blue mirror with black and white stripes. This allows the female to be distinguished from the females of other duck species. The males let out a "Räb-Räb" sound, while the courtship also gives a high whistle. From the females one only hears the well-known croaking. The drake can weigh up to one and a half kilograms and has a wingspan of up to 95 centimeters. Mallards fly 110 kilometers per hour and live to be no more than fifteen years old.


Female mallard with blue wing mirror
Mallards have adapted to different types of bodies of water. They live in the hidden lakes, ditches and ponds of the forests, but are also common in parks. But river estuaries or protected sea bays are also sought out. The webbed feet between the toes make swimming a lot easier. When foraging for food, the ducks stretch their tails upwards and tip forward. This process is also called gudging. They dive upside down, plowing through the mud with their razor bills. After surfacing, the water runs off through small ribs on the side of the beak. They prey on plant remains, but also insects, worms, snails, small crabs or even tadpoles. The hollow feathers of the mallard act like other birds as a cushion of air and at the same time serve for isolation. The small, soft down feathers are surrounded by thicker, strong cover feathers. The mallards regularly grease their plumage with the help of the rump gland, which is located above the tail. The fat is very water-repellent, so the duck never gets "wet".


Drake in magnificent dress with drake curls
In the magnificent dress of the drake, the tips of the tail roll up into small curls, the so-called drake curls. In the plain dress, on the other hand, one cannot distinguish the drake from the female so well. During courtship, the drake stands up and shakes his head. He lets out a beguiling "räb-räb" and sometimes thrusts his head into the water, whistling. The female swims around the drake and nods. Competitors are chased away by the drake. After mating, the well-camouflaged nest is usually created in the bank area in a hollow made of dried plant parts and well padded with down feathers. The female lays seven to eleven greenish-blue eggs, from which the young chicks hatch after four weeks. When they flee the nest, the chicks leave the nest shortly after hatching and are then guided by their mother's calls. The young mallards can swim immediately. You can easily recognize them by their yellow-brown markings and the brown eye stripe.


Males and females, mallard ducks,
Duck with chicks, chicks with typical drawing
In winter, the mallards prefer to go to open water. Then they also eat stale bread when they are fed by humans. Their omnivorous diet and their ability to adapt to humans are the secret of their success, why mallards have spread so extremely numerous.
Copyright: Thomas Seilnacht