Mallard Duck Identification

Adult Description

  • Often described as Large dabbling ducks
  • Males have an iridescent green or blue head, a rusty/chestnut chest and a mostly gray body.
  • Female’s are less impressive and are a mottled speckled brown.

Male Mallard Description

During Breeding Plumage: The dark green head is usually more vibrant making the narrow white neck ring stand out even more. The breast usually turns a more chestnut-brown color. The back and wings are a brownish gray whist the under parts of the duck remain a light grayish color. The rump and under the tail are black with white areas just in front along flanks of the bird. The Tail is white on the outside and there are black middle feathers. The central tail feathers curl up, toward back in a very token mallard style. The bill will be a yellow to greenish colour with a black nail at the tip. The eyes will be dark and the feet will be red.

Regular Eclipse (Basic) Plumage: The crown/head is a dark green. The face of the bird is usually a pale brownish with a dark line through the eye. The breast turns from a rich chestnut color to a warm brown and the body and wings turn to a mottled brown and white. The slight upturn in the central tail feathers remains but is not as predominant. The bill should be a clear yellowish olive color.

Mallard Duck Identification

Female Mallard Description

The female has less striking colors compared to the male and is a brownish color all over with speckled white and dark brown. The face is paler than body with a dark generally line through eye as well as a dark streak on crown/head. The under belly of the duck is pale and the tail is usually whitish with a pale under tail. The bill of the female is yellow or orange and is marked with variable splotches of black. The female’s legs are a red-orange color.

Juvenile Mallard Description

The immature mallard looks very similar to a female and is predominantly brown.

Similar Species

Since the mallard has been around for so long there are often mutations and variations of colors and looks. To make spotting that little bit more difficult there are some similar species to the mallard:

  • Red-breasted Merganser these ducks have green heads with a white neck ring and even a reddish chest! But this duck is built very differently to a mallard. It has a shaggy crest and a long thin bill and it also dives.
  • Northern Shoveler also has a green head but it has a white chest and rusty sides.
  • American Black Duck is a darker color than the mallard and it has no white borders to its purplish speculum but it does have a dark tail.

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