Mallard

Anas platyrhynchos


Year-round Resident

Mallards are abundant year-round residents in the Washington metro area. During the spring, a pair of Mallards can often be seen at Monticello Park.

Where to See Them in the Park

Mallards mostly stay in the upper portion of the stream. They are frequently in the park, but never at any predictable time.

Physical Description


Mallard Male and Female
Male and Female - Photo by Michael Pollack

The male Mallard has the familiar iridescent green head, yellow bill, brown breast, gray body, and white ring around the neck. Females are a mottled brown. If you look closely at a female, the patterning on her feathers is lovely.

Mallard Female
Female - Photo by Ashley Bradford

Mallard Male
Male - Photo by Ashley Bradford

Mallard Male
Male showing speculum - Photo by Ashley Bradford

The iridescent violet patch on the male's wing is called a speculum, which comes from the Latin word for mirror. The speculum is used by Mallards and other species of dabbling ducks in courtship displays. Dabbling means that they look for food by reaching into the water with their neck rather than diving below the surface.

Vocalizations

The familiar duck quack is made only by the female Mallard. The male gives a quieter call with one or two notes.

Hear the vocalizations of the Mallard.

Notes

Mallards are the most widespread wild duck species in North America and the world, partly because they are so adaptable and can live in environments altered by humans. Monticello sometimes is not a safe or peaceful place for them because of dogs who run loose in the stream. This might be why a pair has not tried to nest in the park.

Origin of Names

Common Names: Mallard from the Old French for male.
Genus Name: Anas is Latin for "duck".
Species Name: Platyrhynchos means "broad bill".

Mallard video footage

Return to the Index