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Anas platyrhynchos

Mallards are large, heavy looking ducks with long bodies and long broad bills. The male of the species has a dark green head, a yellow bill with a white ‘scarf’. The females are mainly brown with an orange bill.

They are the most ubiquitous of the dabbling ducks – that is ducks that ‘up-end’ to search for food rather than diving completely under the water. Other dabbling ducks include teals, wigeons, gadwalls, pintails and shovelers. Diving ducks include tufted ducks, goldeneyes and eiders.

The familiar mallard duck has been domesticated for centuries in this country, which means different sorts of plumages have evolved and they don’t always look exactly the same.

You can see mallards on most park ponds and lakes but also in rivers and estuaries. They moult after their breeding season and are flightless for 4 to 5 weeks.

Migration stories

Most mallards live here all year but there are some mallards that migrate. Many that breed in Iceland and Northern Europe spend the winter in Britain and Ireland.

Local spotlight

Mallards are very common around the Solent coast and also further inland in park ponds, rivers and lakes. However, despite being very common their population in the UK is thought to have decreased by over 30% in recent years.

Conservation status

Mallards are not assessed for conservation status in this country.

While they might not be listed in the Solent’s Special Protection Areas, they are still important for the coastal ecosystem and form part of the non-breeding waterbird assemblages for which these regions are protected.

Did you know?

Only the females (known as hens) make the familiar quacking sound. The males (known as drakes) call is much softer and quieter.