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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 (drake) - Anas platyrhynchosMallards are probably the most familiar duck to most, given how well-adapted they are to living around human activity.  Many semi-domesticated Mallards have learned to live on handouts around city parks and ponds.  The Mallard is also the ancestor of the vast majority of domestic ducks. 

Mallards have several sub-species and closely related species, including the "Mexican Duck" and the "Hawaiian Duck", with unique species status dependent upon source, In much of the eastern United States, they are most closely related to American Black Ducks, a species in decline in part due to competition with the more adaptable Mallard, and due to direct cross-breeding between the two species.


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


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.


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.


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.


Surprisingly, a duck-like quack-quack-quack


Spring migration is typically in March, but variable numbers of Mallard will remain in South Dakota in the fall and winter as long as open water and food are available.  

Interactive eBird Map:

Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Mallard sightings

Bird Feeders:

Will feed on corn or grain scattered on the ground.

Similar Species:

Male Mallards are distinctive and unlikely to be confused with another species, if seen well. Female Mallards could be potentially confused with other dabbling duck species.

American Black Duck 2 - Anas rubripes American Black Duck 4 - Anas rubripes Mottled Duck - Anas fulvigula Blue-winged Teal 2 - Spatula discors
American Black Duck American Black Duck (with a Mallard pair) Mottled Duck Blue-winged Teal (female)

Conservation Status:

Very common and widespread, adapted well to a human presence.  Mallard have an extremely wide geographic range across multiple continents, and are very common in many parts of that range. At a global level, the the IUCN lists the Mallard as a species of "Least Concern".

South Dakota "Hotspot":

Mallards typically aren't difficult to find, although in today's heavily populated world, the well-adapted Mallard is actually easier to find in urban areas than in more natural settings. They are often found as semi-tame birds in and around urban parks, golf courses, and other urban settings with water features.

Further Information:

Photo Information:

April 15th, 2018 - Lincoln County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos:

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

Audio File Credits:

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.

Additional Mallard Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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