Bird Families

Mallard: photo of a duck


A densely built waterfowl, with a relatively short neck and legs, the size of a domestic duck. The male has a black head with a green tint, the goiter is brown, the abdomen and sides are ash-gray, the upper tail is black.

The beak is yellow, the legs are orange. In summer, males are colored like females, but differ in a yellow-green beak. The female and juveniles are brownish, with dark streaks. The beak is orange, with a dark center. On the wing there is a violet-blue "mirror"; in flight, white stripes bordering it are visible. It differs from other ducks in its large size and violet-blue "mirror".

It feeds on the water, dives perfectly. It obtains food, often immersing the front part of the body in water and standing upright in the water, tail up. It rises relatively easily from the water. The flight is fast, confident, noisy.

During the mating season, drakes aggressively compete for the right to possess the female, and often try to break up the formed pairs. In spring, meetings of groups of three birds along watercourses are common. In summer, molt takes place, during which the bird loses its ability to fly. Breeds in separate pairs. It makes nests on the ground in dense thickets of grass, in old nests of other birds in trees, in hollows, on haystacks, in forks of trees and abandoned buildings. Having lost the clutch, it nests again, therefore the nesting period is extended. The nest is usually near water. Clutch consists of 7–12, on average 9 white eggs with a greenish or olive tint. Only the female incubates, during this period she allows a person to come close, flies out from under her feet, with chicks intensely distracts and leads away from the offspring. The voice is like the quack of a domestic duck. It feeds on aquatic plants: charovy algae, hornwort, vodokras buds, Vallisneria, seeds of headworm and pondweed, molluscs, insects and their larvae, crustaceans, frogs.

Numerous migratory, common breeding, molting and wintering species. In nesting time, it occurs along watercourses, inhabits shallow water areas and along the water bodies of the delta. Celebrated from February to December, and winters under favorable weather conditions.

Habitat geography

Mallard ducks are highly adaptable to external conditions, so these birds can be found on all continents, except Antarctica. These wild ducks are migratory birds and with the onset of cold weather they fly away to warmer regions: Southern Europe, Iran, Iraq, South China, India, Mexico. In rare cases, mallards stay overwintering on non-freezing lakes.

Mallard duck settle near water bodies and swamps, most often they can be found near a shallow lake or river with a slow flow. When choosing a place to live, the mallard adheres to the basic rule - there should be thickets of reeds, dense bushes, or fallen trees nearby. This is necessary for camouflage during the night of birds and incubation of chicks.

Mallard on a tree. Nine mallard ducklings. Fledglings of mallards went out for feeding. Aerobatic group "Mallard". Mallard ducks in flight. Photo of mallards.


It is enough to look at the photo of the mallard to see the main feature of the birds - the striking differences in the colors of males and females, which make it easy to determine the sex of the duck.

These wild ducks have a large constitution - the body length reaches 63 cm, and the weight is up to one and a half kilograms, the wingspan is 90-100 cm. The beak of birds is flat and wide. In drakes, during mating games, the beak changes its color to ocher-olive.

The male has feathers on the head and neck of a dark green color with a shiny sheen, as well as a white edging on the neck. The goiter and feathers on the chest are painted a dark brown shade. Paws - orange sometimes red. After the summer molt, the appearance of the male is much similar to the plumage of the female - the contrast of colors is lost, and the plumage acquires black-brown tones.

In the female, the color scale of the plumage does not change throughout her life. Feathers are reddish-brown in color with dark spots, feathers on the chest are straw-colored, paws are painted in a pale orange color.

Mallard duck. Mallard head. Common mallard. Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos). Flight of mallard ducks over the Yenisei.


Mallard duck are absolutely not picky in the choice of food. The photo shows that in order to get food, the duck lowers its beak into the water, since it feeds by straining small river animals and plant food through the horny plates of the beak. The mallard's diet includes:

  • Duckweed,
  • Hornwort,
  • Small invertebrates
  • Insects,
  • Small fish,
  • Crustaceans,
  • Tadpoles,
  • Frogs,
  • Molluscs, etc.

In autumn, mallards fly out to feed on agricultural fields, where they eat the remains of grain crops.

East Kazakhstan, mallard wintering on the Irtysh. Mallard ducks in the swamp. Mallard nest on the shore of a reservoir. Mallard in winter on the Pekhorka river. Mallard kindergarten. Mallard duck on the lake.


These ducks become sexually mature at the age of one. The formation of pairs begins in the fall, together they fly away for the winter. The breeding season begins depending on the geography of the habitat, usually during April - August.

Both future parents are engaged in construction, the place for the nest is chosen not far from the reservoir. The nest is a small depression lined with dry grass and leaves. When the nest is ready, the female starts laying, the drake is nearby and does not leave it, it will fly off to molt after the bird is directly incubating the chicks.

Mallard duck in the snow. Mallard drake in flight. Mallard with ducklings. Mallard drake in flight. Mallard with ducklings.

In a clutch of mallards there are usually 6-13 eggs, white with a green tint. During short absences, the mother covers the eggs with fluff from the nest. In the event that during her absence the nest is plundered, the female lays eggs again, but they are usually unfertilized. Chicks appear in 27-29 days, and after 11-13 hours the mother will lead them to the water. After two months, the chicks are old enough to leave the nest.

The life span of a mallard is about 17 years; in captivity, birds can live for more than 25 years.

Photos of drakes from this article are collected on the page of a photo of a drake (+2 photos).

Text of the scientific work on the topic "Coloring and drawing of plumage in the mallard ducks Anas platyrhynchos of the city of Moscow during the breeding season"

Sushkin P.P. 1938. Birds of the Soviet Altai and adjacent parts of the northwestern

Mongolia. M., L., 1: 1-320, 2: 1-436. Johansen H. 1959. Die Vogelfauna Westsibiriens // J. Ornithol. 100, 4: 417-432.

Russian Ornithological Journal 2018, Volume 27, Express issue 1642: 3462-3465

Coloring and plumage pattern of mallard ducks Anas platyrhynchos in Moscow during the breeding season

Vadim Vadimovich Korbut. Department of Biogeography, Faculty of Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University. E-mail: [email protected]

Received July 9, 2018

The mallard Anas platyrhynchos is a numerous species widespread in Eurasia that has long been mastering cultural landscapes, including the city of Moscow and its suburbs (Ptushenko, Inozemtsev 1968). The development of the nature of the megalopolis since the second half of the twentieth century proceeded on the basis of its natural complex, which retained the main zonal features of the city's territory and its agglomeration (Lappo et al. 1988). It is these landscape features of the megalopolis that allowed one of the usual numerous bird species in Moscow for 30-50 years to form a specialized urbanized population (Korbut 1994, 2004), constantly living in conditions of varying degrees of pollution of water, soil, vegetation and air, which leads to an increase in various modification variability of the appearance of birds.

Earlier, it was suggested (Koshelev, Brave 1986) that in a human-changed environment, the frequency of manifestation and variety of deviations in color and pattern of mallard plumage is much higher than in a natural or slightly modified environment. Evasion in coloration and plumage pattern of mallards is a common, albeit relatively rare, phenomenon (Dombrovsky 2013). According to my observations of groups of these ducks living on non-freezing rivers, including the Yauza and Moscow, the frequency of occurrence of various patterns and color aberrations from October to February annually amounts to 1-5 individuals per 1000-10,000 wintering individuals. Perhaps some of them belong to the Moscow urban population or to migrant birds from different parts of the Russian Plain (Shevareva 1969).

Long-term directional observations of a large number of mallards (Koshelev, Khrab-

ry 1986) made it possible to accumulate a huge amount of material on variations in their color and plumage pattern, but these data refer only to birds gathering for wintering from vast expanses of Europe.

My observations of the birds of the Moscow megalopolis are aimed at studying the phenomenon of urbanization in birds of different species, including the mallard, their features in different urban groups (Korbut 2004).

Since the 1950s, the mallards of the urban population of Moscow have been living in almost completely sedentary groups all year round, their daily movements are most often small, and the seasonal ones are associated with the presence of water bodies suitable for feeding and nesting in the city. The benevolent attitude of the townspeople to many animals of the city, including ducks, creates conditions for their successful reproduction (Korbut 2004). The large number and low mobility of the city's mallards during the nesting season, the abundance of natural food for chicks and sexually mature birds, feeding (mainly with white bread), and the calm relationship "bird-man" make the Moscow mallard a very convenient object for studying various problems of the ecology of the city, and many other questions.

Material and methods

The observations of the Moscow mallards were carried out in June-July, when most of them are tied to the territory of water bodies, the males molt, and the females occupy nesting places and start laying eggs and incubating clutches. The routes were laid along the banks of various ponds in several large parks and forest parks located in different parts of the metropolis: the Losiny Ostrov National Park (ponds along the edges), the Forest Experimental Dacha of the Moscow Agricultural Academy, the Main Botanical Garden of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the historical parks of Izmailovo, Sokolniki, Kuskovo, Kuzminki, Pokrovskoe-Streshnevo. All of them belong to specially protected areas, surrounded by forest or park areas, along the perimeters or through the territory there are large railways and highways, creating various pollution.

Observations began in March-April, routes were outlined, seasonal dynamics of the number of birds was revealed, noting the meetings of males and females, and from late April and early May - the number and size of broods. During this part of the work, a directed search for birds with deviations in the patterns and color of plumage was not carried out, but any deviations in appearance were necessarily recorded.

In each of the massifs, starting from 7-8 a.m., they passed along one route at the end of May or June, when the mass appearance of chicks began on the banks of reservoirs. The number of adult birds (males, females, molting individuals) and chicks in broods was taken into account, revealing changes in the color or pattern of plumage of the head, neck and body, lightening or darkening of coverts and flight feathers, general tone and individual feathers. Directed observations of color fluctuations were carried out in the years when the population of mallards in Moscow was declining. The work used materials collected in 2010-2016 in different seasons, mainly in spring and summer. The total length of hiking trails along the banks of Moscow's reservoirs was about 600 km. The most complete observations were made from March to July 2015.

Results and discussion

As a result of counting mallards during observations of the use of various water bodies of the city in June-July 2015, up to 4874 individuals were encountered, i.e. about 30 mallards per 1 km of coastline. The number of chicks among the birds of Moscow was 1560 - about a third of the total number of urban mallards in the breeding season. These are chicks that hatched in May-June. Most often, molting males and molting individuals were seen in the park reservoirs of Moscow - up to 40% in the entire group of detected mallards. The smallest category of mallards in 2015 consisted of single females, without males or broods - up to 390 individuals! Probably, these were females that had hatched early or lost clutches, some of which could start re-nesting and rarely leave their shelters.

The habitats of the mallard duck in the megalopolis partly coincide or overlap with human recreation areas or areas of water bodies that are closed for visiting, which mitigates the negative impact on birds. Introduction of protective zones on water bodies, restrictions (prohibitions) on driving in and washing vehicles, dumping snow, etc. also reduce the pollution of the coastal areas of ponds, the accumulation of solid sediments.

The presence of predatory and omnivorous birds (hawk Accipiter gentilis, hooded crow Corvus cornix) in urban forests and parks could have affected the low occurrence of ducks with pronounced deviations in the pattern and color of plumage in the urban population of mallards by 2015.

Despite the large areas of habitats suitable for mallards, the abundance of these ducks and their high tolerance to anthropogenic factors, convenience of observation, not a single individual of adult mallards and downy ducklings was found in different remote ponds, even with weakly expressed variations in color or plumage pattern.

The results of observations of mallards in cold seasons of the year, during migrations, roaming and wintering in non-freezing water areas of Moscow can be presented as a consequence of the action of a complex of factors of cultivated habitats. In this regard, long-term observations in St. Petersburg confirm the idea of ​​undirected modification variability and random variations in feather color, extremely rare events, equal to no more than one case per thousand individuals. The frequency of the appearance of aberrations in the color and pattern of the feather cover is somewhat higher in a number of urbanized species - corvids and house sparrow Passer domesticus (Korbut 2018). In natural conditions and in the megalopolis, these species are closely related to humans, who create for them a high variety of environmental conditions, especially trophism (Korbut 1994). In turn, this can lead to an increase in bias in the color of the plumage and other violations.

The life of the mallard population in a huge city, especially in the season of

breeding, determines the attachment of birds to water - a system of ponds as a food base for adults and chicks, as a place for nesting and feeding, etc. Man is included in these systems as one of their components. The natural and cultural ecosystems of the natural complex of Moscow that have developed over 100-150 years provide several thousand mallards with the necessary resources. A directed search in 2015 for mallards of any sex and age with deviations in color and pattern did not give any results. Perhaps the conditions for the existence of mallards in Moscow are such that deviations in plumage color are extremely rare (the probability of their appearance is no more than 1 case per 1000 individuals).

Dombrovsky K.Yu. 2013. Polymorphism of mallard duck color Anas platyrhynchos // Rus. ornithol. zhurn. 22 (854): 597-605. V.V. Korbut 1994. Nutrition // Urbanized population of waterfowl (Anas platyrhynchos) in Moscow. M .: 89-128. V.V. Korbut 2004. Urban population of the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos L) in Moscow // Bul.

MOIP. Dept. biol. 109, 5: 12-21. V.V. Korbut 2018. Variation of color of plumage in some species of synanthropic

birds // Rus. ornithol. zhurn. 27 (1577): 1085-1093. Koshelev A.I., Brave V.M. 1986. Polymorphism of mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos

L.) in Leningrad // Tr. Zool. Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences 147: 25-30. Lappo GM, Treivish A., Golts GA 1988. Moscow capital region: Territorial structure and natural environment. Geographical research experience. M .: 1-321. E. S. Ptushenko, A. A. Inozemtsev 1968. Biology and economic importance of birds in the Moscow region and adjacent territories. M .: 1-460. Shevareva T.P. 1969. Geographic populations of mallards in the USSR // Ornithology 9: 249268.

Russian Ornithological Journal 2018, Volume 27, Express issue 1642: 3465-3467

Nesting sandpipers on arable land in the Moscow region

Second edition.First published in 2013 *

In 2012, with the support of the Small Environmental Grants Fund (RSGF), monitoring of nesting waders was continued on an area of ​​500 hectares of potato crop rotation re-planted by the Dmitrovsky Vegetables agricultural holding at the site of perennial meadows in the Zhuravlinnaya Rodina nature reserve (see Sviridova 2012). In 2012, almost equal

* Sviridova T.V. 2013. Nesting of waders on arable land in the Moscow region // Inform. Sandpiper Working Group Proceedings 26: 71-73.