South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Mallard

Anas platyrhynchos

Length: 22 inches Wingspan: 30 to 40 inches Seasonality: All Seasons
ID Keys: (Male) Iridescent green head, white collar, blue speculum with white borders

Mallard - Anas playthynchosMallards are probably the most familiar duck to most, and well-adapted to living around human activity.  Many semi-domesticated Mallards have learned to live on handouts around city parks and ponds.  The Mallard is the ancestor of many domestic ducks.  A male is shown in the photo to the right.  Additional photos (including females) can be found at the bottom of the page.

Habitat: Marshes, woody swamps, lakes, ponds, rivers, city parks.  Occurs on nearly any kind of freshwater habitat. 

Diet: Primarily plant material, such as grasses, pond weeds, grasses, sedges, seeds, grain, and roots.  Also will eat insects, small fish, earthworms, frogs, tadpoles, and snails.

Behavior: Primarily forages by dabbling on the water's surface...upending and submerging its head and neck.  They will rarely dive for food.  They also will forage by walking on land.

Nesting: Mid-April through August. The bowl-shaped nest of a Mallard is constructed of vegetative material, lined with the bird's own down.  The female usually lays between 6 and 10 eggs, and she does the incubation.  When the eggs hatch, the young leave the nest within a day and feed themselves, but the female protects them.  The young first take flight after about 8 weeks.

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Surprisingly, a quack-quack-quack

Migration: Spring migration in March, will remain in the fall and winter as long as open water and food are available.  

Bird Feeders: Will feed on corn or grain scattered on the ground.

Similar Species: American Black Duck, Mottled Duck.  Females are very similar to many female ducks.

Conservation Status: Very common and widespread, adapted well to a human presence.  The IUCN lists the Mallard as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Mallard

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Mallard"

3) eNature.com: Mallard

Photo Information: April 4th, 2004 - Arrowhead Park near Sioux Falls, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Mallard photos.

 

Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Range Map - Mallard
South Dakota Status: Common migrant and summer resident statewide.  Locally common in winter, typically where open water is available.