Spread and habitat
Mallard is the most common, most loved and most hunted duck in the world. Native to the Northern Hemisphere (Eurasia), it is found almost everywhere where there are bodies of water. It is however almost unknown in Sardinia and Spain; it is rarely found below Corsica and the Mediterranean seems to be the southern limit of its habitat. Migratory or sedentary duck.
The male, in nuptial livery, has a green head with green metallic reflections, a white collar and the neck, up to most of the chest, reddish brown.
The sides are pearl gray and the belly is white. The undertail is black and the white tail with greenish-black coverage (four tail feathers are curled). The back is gray-brown and the wings are dark gray with an evident green-blue band.
The yellow-greenish bill, the red-orange legs and the brown eye.
The female is of uniform variegated brown-gray color; it has a green-blue band on the wings. The plumage has a hazelnut base.
The beak is slate colored. The limbs are red-orange.
The young specimens are very similar to the females.
Variable size from 41 to 66 cm. Average male weight 1.0-1.5 kg; the female is lighter.
Nutrition and behavior
Practically omnivorous, it feeds on everything it can find by dipping its beak underwater or scratching the ground. In captivity it does not present particular food needs. Thanks to its docility and adaptability it has become the prototype of the domestic duck. Little rowdy: the sound of the male is weaker than that of the female. Couples are formed in late autumn and reproduce in the following spring. The females lay 9 to 15 green-colored eggs in nests hidden in ravines of the ground and indoors, between rocks or bushes. Females have a strong maternal sense.
Mallard meat is far less fat than that of the common duck: it has a particular flavor and is close to the taste of game: The bust of this duck is quite round and well-stocked with meat with conspicuous fillets.
Mallard male (Anas plathyrhynchos L.) (photo Matteo Matichecchia)
Mallard female (Anas plathyrhynchos L.)
Mallard (photo Marco Boldrini)
There are many species of ducks bred in captivity and, among these, many have been domesticated. Their use can be both income (meat, eggs, liver), hunting and ornamental. Those that are used more or less intensively in poultry farming come from two wild species: Chairina moschata L. which originated the Barberia duck, also called muta or musk, and Mallard or wild duck (Anas platyrhynchos L.), which gave rise to all domestic ducks, often called common and wild crossbreeds.