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Meet the Species: Mallard Ducks

Feeding ducks at the local park, canal or reservoir is a very British childhood memory but there may be more to this common bird than meets the eye. The mallard duck is common across the Americas, Eurasia, and Northern Africa and recently it has been introduced to South America and New Zealand.
Their widespread distribution is a testament to their successful and adaptable design. They are omnivorous which allows them able to eat grass, aquatic plants, insects, seeds, fruit, fish and crustaceans and their young are precocial which means that they are born in an advanced state and are able to feed themselves almost immediately.
Another amazing adaptation is their intricate feather structure and the waxy coating that they spread on it during preening. This waxy coating is produced by a small gland at the base of their tail which makes them so waterproof that even when they dive underwater, the downy underlayer of feathers next to the skin will stay completely dry.
Individuals are known as mallard ducks but the sexes have different names with male’s being known as drakes, females being called hens and the young are known as ducklings.
To confuse things further when a group of ducks are in flight they are known as a flock but when in water they are then called a raft.

Alexander S. Howson

Alexander S. Howson is a naturalist and nature writer.

Along with a heavy interest in Aquatics, birds and ecology. Alexander now directs a large deal of energy attempting to re-educate the public about aquatics and promoting the conservation of a range of wildlife species.

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