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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Mallard -- Anas platyrhynchos
(includes Mexican Duck)

RANGE: Breeds from northern Alaska east to southern Keewatin and across to southern Maine south to California, the southern Great Basin and New Mexico, and from Oklahoma east through the Ohio Valley to Virginia. Winters generally from southern Alaska and southern Canada south to central Mexico. Introduced and established in the Hawaiian Islands.

STATUS: The most common and widely distributed duck in North America.

HABITAT: Inhabits ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, wet meadows, and wooded swamps of primarily mixed and shortgrass prairie; also inhabits boreal forest region and sub-arctic deltas. Winters on inland ponds and rivers with some open water; less commonly in coastal marshes.

NEST: Typically nests on the ground in dry or slightly marshy areas within 300 feet of water, sometimes as far as 1.5 miles away in grasslands. Conceals nest well in snowberry clumps, among weeds and grasses, in pastures, stubble, or cultivated fields, or in marsh vegetation; rarely in cavities, on hollowed tops of stubs, or in tree crotches.

FOOD: Feeds by dabbling in shallow waters of ponds, sloughs, lakes, streams, and swamps, and by grazing and gleaning in grainfields and meadows. Consumes seeds, acorns, nuts, waste grains, aquatic insects, mollusks, tadpoles, frogs, small fish, and fish eggs.

REFERENCES: Bellrose 1976, DeGraff et al. 1980, Johnsgard 1975b, Palmer 1976a, Terres 1980.

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