Mallard Duck

Mallard Duck- Anas platyrhynchos


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Genre: Anas
  • Species: Anas platyrhynchos

Identification characters

One of the most common and best known duck species, considered the ancestor of the domestic duck. 50-60 cm.
Short tail, broad wings, orange legs, dark blue mirror bordered with white. The body being large and stocky, 50-60 cm long, it looks heavy in flight.
Sexual dimorphism is present. Male has metallic green head, white collar, dull yellow bill, purplish-brown breast, black hindquarters with central codal feathers curled, rest of body light grey. Females are brownish in colour, so are very well camouflaged when brooding.


The Mallard Duck has a very wide range. It is found throughout most of the northern hemisphere, from the subarctic to the tropics, in Europe, Asia, East Africa, North and Central America. In Europe, the breeding population is about 2 850 000 – 4 610 000 pairs.
In Romania it can be found in most aquatic areas corresponding to its preferred habitat type, especially those at low and medium altitudes. The population of the Great Bustard in Romania is 76 662-146 831 breeding pairs. Between 54 397 and 228 791 individuals can be observed in winter.

Living environment and biology of the species

It is a species found in a variety of habitats, from tundra to subtropical, with slow-flowing or still, relatively sheltered waters, estuaries and deltas, lagoons, shallow water sea coasts, lakes, rivers, ponds and puddles, especially in shallow waters with submerged or floating vegetation. Generally avoids deep or exposed waters.
Predominantly migratory species, but some populations are sedentary. Wintering and nesting territories overlap for many populations.
It is an omnivorous and opportunistic species. Food consists of plant debris, leaves, tubers, rhizomes, roots, seeds, insects and their larvae, snails, crustaceans, tadpoles and even small fish. It is a very active species at night. They gather in large groups outside the nesting season. Migrates in flocks. In spring migration flocks are predominantly pairs. In February the pairs begin to look for nesting sites.
Pairs nest separately, but may sometimes form colonies. They nest on the ground in dense vegetation, under boulders, in overhangs or at the base of bushes. Nesting is also common on plains or in reeds. After mating, the male leaves the female and joins other males, waiting for the breeding season, which begins in June. Sometimes they may stay with the female for a second breeding when the first nest has been destroyed. Laying of the clutch takes place from February (in warmer areas). The clutch consists of 8-14 greenish or blue-green eggs, which are incubated for 27-28 days. If the first clutch is destroyed, a second clutch is laid. The breeding period is very demanding for the female, as she invests almost half of her body weight in egg production. For this reason, quiet and feeding areas are very important for the conservation of this species. The chicks are nidifugous and follow the female into the water immediately or a few hours after hatching. They can feed on their own, but depend on parental care until they are 7-8 weeks old, when they become able to fly. Other species of nesting parasitic ducks, such as the brown-headed duck, the widgeon, the mottled duck, the red duck or the spoonbill, may lay eggs in the nests of large ducks. In these cases of nest parasitism, the female mallard may hatch the entire clutch, or remove the eggs of a different colour. It often happens that the whole nest is abandoned, especially if the parasitism occurs during the laying period.

Threats and conservation measures

Habitat loss and alteration, pollution and poor water management, and hunting are just some of the factors threatening duck populations.
It is recommended to respect restrictions in riparian and coastal areas, maintain wetland vegetation at an optimal ecological level, manage waste and wastewater in areas of important habitat for the species, use selective and low toxicity agrochemicals, avoid the use of treated seeds in the vicinity of wetlands, manage water levels in reservoirs in accordance with the species’ needs, prohibit hunting and poaching, inventory breeding areas, identify migration, feeding and crowding areas important for the species, promote studies on the biology of the species.


  • Fântână Ciprian, Kovács Istvan, Benkő Zoltán, Daròczi Szilárd, Domșa Cristian, Veres-Szászka Judit (editors), 2022, Atlas of bird species of community interest in Romania, 2nd edition – Love birds, save nature!, Project financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Large Infrastructure Operational Programme 2014-2020, Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests – Biodiversity Directorate, scientific coordination Romanian Ornithological Society and Association for the Protection of Birds and Nature Milvus Group, produced by EXCLUS PROD SRL, p. 28-29;
    Svensson (text and maps), 2017, Guide to bird identification. Europe and the Mediterranean area, translation and adaptation into Romanian: Romanian Ornithological Society, Emanuel Ștefan Baltag, Sebastian Bugariu, Alida Barbu, p.24;
    Radu Dimitrie, 1983, Small Ornithological Atlas – Birds of the World, Albatros Publishing, Bucharest, p. 74; Ornitodata | Great Duck (
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