Reddish Vale Country Park
UK breeding pairs,
Diet, acorns, berries,
The Mallard is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New Zealand and Australia.
The Mallard is the ancestor of almost all of the varieties of domestic ducks. Ducks belong to the subfamily Anatinae of the waterfowl family Anatidae. The wild Mallard and Muscovy duck are believed to be the ancestors of all domestic ducks.
The name is derived from the Old French malart or mallart "wild drake", although its ultimate derivation is unclear. It may be related to an Old High German masculine proper name Madelhart, clues lying in the alternate English forms "maudelard" or "mawdelard".
Mallards usually form pairs (in October and November) only until the female lays eggs at the start of nesting season which is around the beginning of spring (early March to late May), at which time she is left by the male who will join up with other males to await the molting period which begins in June. During the brief time before this, however, the males are still sexually potent and some of them will either remain on standby to sire replacement clutches (for female Mallards that have lost or abandoned their previous clutch) or forcibly mate with females of a different species that appear to be isolated or unattached.
The nesting period can be very stressful for the female; since she lays more than half her body weight in eggs and requires a lot of rest and a feeding/loafing area that is safe from predators. When seeking out a suitable nesting site, the female's preferences are areas that are well concealed, inaccessible to ground predators, or have few predators nearby. This can include urban areas that have roof gardens, enclosed courtyards, and flower boxes on window ledges more than one story up which prevents the ducklings from leaving safely without human intervention. The clutch is 8–13 eggs, which are incubated for 27–28 days to hatching with 50–60 days to fledgling. The ducklings are precocial and fully capable of swimming as soon as they hatch. However, Filial imprinting will compel them to instinctively stay near the mother not only for warmth and protection but also to learn about and remember their habitat as well as how and where to forage for food. When ducklings mature into flight-capable juveniles, they will learn about and remember their traditional migratory routes (unless they are born and raised in captivity). After this, the juveniles and the mother will either continue staying together (until the breeding season arrives) or they will finally part ways which can occur for two reasons.
The mother will leave the juveniles, knowing that they can fully fend for themselves.
The juveniles will leave the mother and set off on their own to seek out new sources of food and water, both natural and artificial.
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Reddish Vale Country Park
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