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Keeping Ducks: The Mallard Breed



The Mallard breed, probably the most-popular and most familiar of all duck breeds, is an ornamental duck that breeds all over the sub-tropics and temperate regions of North America, Asia, Europe, New Zealand and Africa. It is also presently the most common duck breed in New Zealand. It is scattered in these areas because they are migratory birds. They usually go north during the breeding season and farther south during winter. For instance, in North America, it migrates to Mexico during the winter season, but regularly drifts into the Central region and the Caribbean Islands during spring.

The Mallard is known to be related to other duck breeds, except to the Muscovy which is not related to any kind of ducks.

This breed has a wingspan of 80-100 cm, and can weigh almost 1.5 kg during its growth peak. The breeding male is distinctive, with a green tinge on the head, black side ends and the bill is yellow or orange with black tips, as compared to the dark brown bill of Mallard females. The female is light brown, like most female ornamental ducks. However, both sexes has vivid violet speculum, tipped with white, which is distinctive during flight. During the non-breading season, the drake (male duck) changes into a dull color, looking more like the female duck, but still recognizable by its yellow bill and scarlet chest. Male ducks have a nasal quack, while the sound from the female is more vivid and louder.

In confinement, domestic Mallards appear in a wild kind looking feathers, in white, and other shades. Many of these color varieties are also commonly known in farm-raised mallards not raised as poultry, but kept as household pets, or aviary purposes, where they are deemed unusual but is gaining in popularity.

The Mallard likes to stray in wetlands such as parks, ponds and streams, and typically feeds by picking plant foods or grazing the ground. They commonly brood on river banks, but not very close to the rim. It is a very sociable animal when they are not breeding and will form in large a flock that is called a sord.

Mallard breeds seek a partner until the female lays eggs at the time when she is left alone by the drake. The usual egg clutch is 9-12 eggs that are incubated by the female for almost a month with 1 month of fledgling. The baby ducks can swim and feed by themselves as soon as they hatch, although they still need their mother for safety.

When they find a mating partner, often some drakes will end up alone. This flock will somehow target a single female duck courting her until she gives up, at the point each drake will take his turn in copulating with her.

Keeping Mallard ducks is recommended for ornamental purposes, since they can provide a relaxing experience for people who own a small pond. They are not so popular for meat and egg production, since there are other breeds such as the Peking and the Black East Indie that are more productive than this breed.







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