Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman

Mallard duck

Anas platyrhynchos

Wilde eend / Stockente / Canard colvert


The mallard or wild duck is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate andsubtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay,Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands and South Africa. This duck belongs to the subfamily Anatinae of the waterfowl family Anatidae.

The male birds (drakes) have a glossy green head and are grey on wings and belly, while the females have mainly brown-speckledplumage. Mallards live in wetlands, eat water plants and small animals, and are gregarious. This species is the ancestor of most breeds ofdomestic ducks.


The mallard was one of the many bird species originally described by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th-century work, Systema Naturae, and still bears its original binomial name Anas platyrhynchos

Mallards frequently interbreed with their closest relatives in the genus Anas, such as the American black duck, and also with species more distantly related, leading to various hybrids that may be fully fertile.


The size of the mallard varies clinally, and birds from Greenland, although larger than birds further south, have smaller bills and are stockier. They are sometimes separated as subspecies, the Greenland mallard (A. p. conboschas).

Anas platyrhynchos (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) was provisionally split into A. platyrhynchos and A. diazi by Stotz et al. (1996) but this treatment has not been adopted, following SACC (2005).


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern (IUCN, 2012).


The global population is estimated to number > c.19,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in China; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.10,000 wintering individuals in Korea and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.10,000 wintering individuals in Japan (Brazil 2009).


Almost all varieties of domesticated duck are descended from the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), apart from the Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata). Domesticated ducks are ducks that are raised for meateggs and down. Many ducks are also kept for show, as pets, or for their ornamental value.



Above: adult Mallard drake, breeding plumage



Above: adult Mallard drake, breeding plumage



Above: adult Mallard female



Above: adult group of Mallards (3 drakes, 2 females)



Above: adult Mallard drake, moulting plumage



Above: adult Mallard drake, moulting plumage



Above: adult Mallard drake, moulting plumage



Above: adult Mallard female with ducklings



Above: Mallard duckling, several days of age



Above: Mallard duckling, several weeks of age



Above: Mallard-types from America. Click to enlarge.

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