Easily the most common and easily recognized duck in North America, the Mallard is a ubiquitous species in urban areas. Males have an iridescent green head and a black neck bordered with a thin white stripe. Their bodies are grey or dusky brown. Tail feathers are black and curl upwards. Females and juvenile ducks are drabber in appearance with speckled brown bodies. Both males and females have long, flat bills and a bright blue patch of feathers on the underside of the wings.
Mallards are a generalist species where their diet is concerned, foraging on seeds, various vegetation and insect larvae. When swimming, their feeding strategy is known as “dabbling,” where they tip their bodies forward to submerge the head and feed on aquatic plants. Unlike other ducks, the Mallard does not dive for food.
The Mallard is a highly successful species found in all parts of North America and Eurasia. It adapts easily to a variety of habitats, but is always in close proximity to fresh water. It is the most common duck found in public parks or other urban areas and may sometimes be considered a nuisance species due to the noise and hygiene issues they create.