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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Green-headed mallard
Common mallard (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos)
Northern mallard
Wild Duck
Greenland mallard (Anas platyrhynchos conboschas)
Mexican mallard (Anas platyrhynchos diazi)
Mexican duck (Anas platyrhynchos diazi)
Stockente (German)
Canard colvert (French)
Anade azulon (Spanish)
Anade real (Spanish)
Wilde Eend (Dutch)
Gräsand (Swedish)
Anas platyrhynchos diazi (Mexican duck) = Anas platyrhynchos diazi
Anas boscas

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B2, B3, B5, B8, B19, B25, B26, B27.

Other references:

B38, B138

Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B30, B31, B40, B94, B97, B108, B128.w1, B128.w2, B129
D1, D8

(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques


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Aviculture Information


General Information:
  • Dabbling Ducks are generally hardy, easy to maintain and easy to breed. Shelter may be required by some of the smaller species in winter. They should be provided with cover (including marginal pond cover) and loafing areas as well as water. A pen which is 50% water is suggested. The water may be shallow (i.e. no more than two feet deep is required), and muddy areas for dabbling in are also appreciated. These ducks are generally good in mixed collections, although the smaller and quieter species may be bullied. Territorial disputes between ducks of the same species may be avoided by keeping only one pair of each species in an enclosure, unless the area is very large. For a single pair of ducks a pen are of 50 to 100 square metres, depending on the size of duck, should be provided.
  • A diet based on wheat and pellets is suggested, with maintenance pellets changed to breeders pellets for the breeding season. Bread and greenfood are also appreciated. Grit should always be available, with soluble grit (e.g. oystershell grit) as a calcium source when breeding.
  • Most species are ground nesters and both close ground cover and ground level nest boxes should be provided. Hand-rearing is generally preferred, as these ducks are generally poor parents in captive conditions, particularly in enclosures shared with other waterfowl. These ducks are prone to hybridization, particularly with closely related species, which should be kept apart from one another.

(B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B128.w1, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Mallard are quarrelsome within their own species but usually tolerant of other species. The enclosure should have cover, loafing areas and water. They may be fed a variety of foods, including a standard mixture of pellets and wheat. They are rarely included deliberately in collections as drakes will pursue and rape females of other species, with resultant hybrids. If kept, including three or four females for each drake may be useful.
  • Mallard are very easy to breed. They may lay from late winter to mid summer, e.g. February to July, and use a wide variety of natural cover and artificial nest sites. Females may be used as broodies and as foster-mothers for other species, but may attract wild drakes. Ducklings are very hardy and easy to rear.
  • Frequently hybridise, particularly with other Anas species - descendants often fertile; also with Cairina moschata - Muscovy duck and with other ducks and geese.

(B29, B31, B40, B94, B97, B108, B128.w2, B129)

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size: M 12.0mm (D8).

Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos 50-65cm, 20-25 inches (B1, B25).

Anas platyrhynchos diazi 51-56cm, 20-22 inches (B25).

Adult weight General --
Male Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos average 1170g (B25); mean 2.6 lbs. (B8).

Anas platyrhynchos diazi 960-1060g (B25); 2.1-2.3 lbs. (B8).

Anas platyrhynchos conboschas average 10% larger than platyrhynchos (B8).

Female Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos average 1042g (B25; mean 2.3 lbs. (B8).

Anas platyrhynchos diazi 815-990g (B25); 1.8-2.2 lbs. (B8).

Anas platyrhynchos conboschas average 10% larger than platyrhynchos (B8).

Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Yellow to olive-green.
Variations (If present) Female: pinkish-brown.

Anas platyrhynchos diazi male greenish-yellow, female dull yellow-orange.

Eyes (Iris) Male Brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Dull reddish-grey, later as adults.
Eyes (Iris) Brown.

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Adult Male Orange.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Orange.

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Adult MaleClick Illustration for full-page view Head and neck iridescent green, narrow white neck ring, lower neck and breast dark purple-brown. Abdomen and flanks pale grey, upperparts slightly darker brownish-grey. Rump and tail-coverts black, tail central feathers black and curled upwards, side of tail grey/white.

Wing has grey-brown coverts, white tips to grey greater coverts, glossy blue/purple secondaries with black base and subterminal line and white tips; visible when wing folded as distinctive blue wing flash (speculum) bordered by black then white line in front and behind. Primaries brown.

Variations (If present)Click Illustration for full-page view Females: Generally brown. Head sides pale brown with fine dark streaks, dark brown eyeline, dark brown crown and hindneck. Body feathers pale brown with darker markings and 'V' shapes on feathers. Abdomen slightly paler with dark streaks and mottles. Wing has distinctive wing flash (speculum) as in males but coverts brown not grey.

Eclipse: Similar to female, but paler sides of head, darker crown and nape, breast less strongly marked and slightly reddish.

Anas platyrhynchos diazi: both sexes similar to female Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos, but body darker, tail and tail-coverts dark, speculum slightly greenish-blue with narrower white bands.

Anas platyrhynchos conboschas: Similar to platyrhynchos with typical male and female plumages, but paler.

Juvenile Similar to female, darker and more streaked markings.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts dark brown with yellow markings, underparts yellow. Brown eyeline and ear spot.
Bill: Grey.
Feet: Grey.

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Spring to Summer: mainly February to June.
No. of Clutches Re-nests if eggs or young ducklings lost.

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Nest placement and structure

Varies sites from open to thick vegetation, even up to 10m high in trees. Nest a shallow depression, rim of nest, grass and twigs, lining of down.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 9-13 (B2, B8). Anas platyrhynchos diazi 4-9 (B8)
Range 4-18 (B2).
Egg Description Light grey-green, buff, white or occasionally bluish. Size: 57 x 41mm, weight: 51g.

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23-32, usually 27-28 days (B2); 26-30 days (B8).

Anas platyrhynchos diazi 26-28 days (B8).

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50-60 days (B2); 49-60 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males One year old, earliest breeding 7 months old.
Females One year old, earliest breeding 6-7 months old.

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dabbles and up-ends while swimming, also wades in shallows and feeds on land, including in stubble.
Newly-hatched Mainly on land or water surface initially, later also sub-surface.

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary nests, although sometimes quite close together (e.g. 1m). Standard Anas behaviour is that the nest is built by the female only.
Incubation By female only.
Newly-hatched Tended, and strongly defended, by female only and brooded when young.

Independent at fledging.

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Highly gregarious.

Anas platyrhynchos diazi less gregarious, found in smaller groups.

Inter-specific Mixes readily with other species.

Anas platyrhynchos diazi does not mix much with other species.

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Sexual Behaviour

Promiscuous. Forms seasonal pair bond but still shows interest in other females. Leaves mate soon after incubation starts, joins in small flock with other males and pursues other females, with gang-rapes occurring if the female is caught.

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Predation in Wild

Crows, gulls.

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Activity Patterns

Will roost in feeding areas if safe, or at a distance if necessary, flying between the sites at morning and evening.
Circadian Mainly nocturnal feeding in some areas, but also feeds by day.

Anas platyrhynchos diazi mainly nocturnal.

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Natural Diet


Omnivorous. Seeds and stems of aquatic plants, seeds and shoots of other plants, also insects, crustaceans, molluscs, and grain particularly in winter.

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Initially mainly insects, then seeds.

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos through most of Palearctic and Nearctic.

Mostly migratory but some populations sedentary.

London: In the London Area, "very common and widespread breeding resident, with numbers increasing in winter." Includes 200 or more on the River Thames at more than one location (Barnes, Putney). In Inner London, found at several sites, with more than 150 at Surrey Docks in February and St James's Park in September, 2000 and small numbers breeding. (J322.65.w1)

  • Anas platyrhynchos conboschas Greenland.
  • Anas platyrhynchos diazi extreme southern USA, from Arizona to Texas, southward to central Mexico.

Occasional and Accidental



South-eastern Australia (hybridises with Anas superciliosa - Pacific black duck) and New Zealand, Bermuda, possibly South Africa (hybridises with Anas undulata - African yellowbill, offspring fertile), possibly Chile (B38).

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Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos: Lowland standing waters from ponds and freshwater lakes to sheltered bays and coasts. Prefers areas with ample plant growth in and around water. Occasionally found at higher altitudes. Highly adaptable to a wide range of habitats, including urban areas.

Anas platyrhynchos diazi: In open country. Wetlands in the uplands of central Mexico, inland rivers and marshes, flooded fields.

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Intraspecific variation

Common mallard (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos)
Mexican mallard (Anas platyrhynchos diazi)
Domestic duck (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus) descended from Anas platyrhynchos. Sometimes hybridises with Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) to produce Mule duck.

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Not threatened. Abundant and widespread.

40% decrease in Britain over the ten years to 1997-98 (B45).

General Legislation
  • This species is listed on Schedule 2 - Part I (Birds which may be killed or taken outside the close season, 1 February to 31 August except where indicated otherwise: Notes on the revised schedules state "NOTE: The close season for ducks and geese when below high water mark is 21 February to 31 August") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
  • This species is listed on Schedule 3 - Part 3 (Birds which may be sold alive at all times if ringed and bred in captivity: Notes on the revised schedules state "Birds which may be sold dead from 1 September to 28 February (NB: It is illegal to offer for sale at any time of the year any wild goose, moorhen, gadwall or goldeneye, although they are legitimate quarry species outside the close season)) of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
CITES listing Listing not yet included.
Red-data book listing Listing not yet included.
Threats Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos is a threat to Anas platyrhynchos diazi due to hybridisation in southern USA.

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Captive Populations

Common in collections, frequently uninvited.

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