The Mallard

The Mallard (Anas boscas) may very appropriately be selected as a typical representative of the true Ducks, for it is not only a very handsome bird, well known throughout most of North America, but is equally well known and es-teemed over temperate Europe and Asia. It is a large bird about twenty-four inches long, with the head and neck a soft, brilliant metallic green, the chest a rich dark chestnut, separated from the green of the neck by a pure white collar; across the secondaries is a rich, metallic violet speculum, bordered above and below with white, while the rump, upper tail-coverts, and four middle curled tail-feathers are black; the rest of the tail-feathers are gray and the abdomen and flanks finely vermiculated grayish white, while the legs and feet are orange-red. The female is smaller and has the general plumage mottled brown and buff.

In North America the Mallard is a migratory bird, spending the summer mainly in the interior from Indiana and Iowa northward, also reaching Labrador and the Arctic regions, while in winter it retires to the Southern States and middle America. ” Marshy places, the margins of ponds and streams, pools, and ditches are its favorite resorts. It walks with ease, and can even run with considerable speed, or dive, if forced to speed, or dive, if forced to do so; but never dives in order to feed. Its food consists chiefly of the seeds of grasses, fibrous roots of plants,arms, mollusks,and insects. In feeding in shallow water it keeps the hind part of the body erect,while it searches the muddy bottom with its bill.” —BREWER. When alarmed it springs up at once with a bound, uttering at the time a loud quack, and often rising obliquely to a considerable height, flies off with tremendous speed. The nest is usually placed on the ground, though occasionally in trees, where they may occupy the deserted nest of a Crow or Hawk. The ordinary nest on the ground is usually a bulky structure made of coarse grasses and sedges and occasionally lined with feathers or down. The eggs, six to ten in number, are pale green or greenish white, and about two and twenty-five hundredths by one and seventy hundredths inches in size. In Great Britain the Mallard is a resident species and is the most common and best known of the fresh-water Ducks, breeding in suitable situations throughout the country. During winter, however, the number is augmented by many that have bred in more northern localities. Those breeding in northern Asia visit India and China in winter, those of north Europe going in part to northern Africa. It is perhaps needless to state that the Mallard is the ancestral stock whence most of our domestic breeds have sprung.