Kingdom Animalia
Click to hear the call  Click to watch the video
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae
Genus Anas
Species platyrhynchos
Classification Linnaeus, 1758
Common name mallard
Size 51 - 62 centimeters
Wing Span 81 - 98 centimeters
Male weight 850 - 1400 grams
Female weight 850 - 1400 grams

Geographic Range mallards can be found almost anywhere in the world. They dominate the Northern Hemisphere and can be found easily in Oceanic islands, Asia, Africa, South America and in many islands.
Physical Characteristics the mallard is the most widespread wild duck in the world. The male is brown-gray with green iridescent plumage on the head and neck, white neck band, brown chest; the rest of the body is brownish gray; the feathers on the tail are curled and black, the beak is yellow. The female's plumage is drab brown, streaked and spotted. The beak is brown, bordered with orange. In both sexes the secondary feathers located on the back inner portion of the wing (speculum) are iridescent blue.
Call the male's song is loud. The common call made by the ducks is performed by the female and can be heard for miles. It is named "decrescendo call": the female will give it when she wants to bring other ducks or her ducklings back to her.
Behaviour the male changes mate every year. The research of a mate begins in August before the breeding season. After the beginning of the incubation, the male leaves the female and joins a male flock. As most of the surface ducks, the mallard feeds on plants. The mallard flies up without running on the water. The males have a plumage similar to that of the females during the molt which occurs at the end of summer, when the flight feathers fall all at the same time: that makes them unable to fly for about 30 days. They get their initial appearance back in 3 or 4 weeks.
Habitat it can be found in several environments: ponds, lakes, marshes both with or without vegetation, coasts. It prefers wet environments where highly productive waters offer a great deal of emergent and submerged floating vegetation. For the mallards small water surfaces (as ponds or canals) are enough.
Flight the mallards fly with the head and neck outstreched, with small but quick flutterings of wings.
Food habits seeds, roots and waterplants, but frogs and insects too. They take advantage of human food source. They feed in the water plunging their head and with their tail up high, tapping the bottom.
Migration after the breeding season, the mallards form big flocks and migrate from northern latitudes to warmer southern areas. There they wait and feed until the breeding season starts again. Some mallards, however, may choose to stay through the winter in areas where food and shelter are abundant; these mallards make up resident populations. In Italy it is migratory, wintering and partially sedentary.
Nidification nest-building normally starts at the beginning or at the end of late April, with a peak in May. The female builds her nest with typha leaves or other types of vegetation, on the ground near bodies of water or in the hollows of the trees. She lays from 7 to 16 pale green eggs. The incubation lasts about 26 days and the female is the only in charge with the care of the eggs: the males begin to migrate just as the incubation starts. The female leads the ducklings to the water within 12 hours from the hatch and from that moment on she leaves the nest for good. The care of the ducklings goes on for 42-60 days after the hatch and the ducklings start flying at the age of 7 weeks.
Status in the lagoon mallards can be found in the fish farms (as Dragojesolo, Dogà, Averto, Figheri). In the province of Venice mallards are regularly migratory, nest-building and sedentary. That's why they increase their number during winter.

References University of Michigan - Museum of Zoology
Georgia Museum of Natural History
Museo Zoologico "La Specola" di Firenze
I censimenti degli uccelli svernanti in Provincia di Venezia - a cura di M. Bon e G. Cherubini - Provincia di Venezia, Assessorato Caccia e Pesca.
Web References http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/
Source of the photo http://www.vogelarten.de/arten/Stockente/stockenteallgemein.htm
Source of the call http://www.naturesongs.com/
Source of the video http://www.hbw.com/ibc/

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