Hen Mallard (Pin Feather)

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Untitled-5Hen Mallard

The mottled subtle light and dark brown markings make the hen mallard strikingly beautiful bird. While there can be wide individual variations between individuals the blue speculum and orange bill with it’s irregular dark spots, make the mallard hen easily recognized.

The hen makes the mating selection each spring before or during the northern migration. Pairs remain together through nest building and egg laying. After incubation begins the drakes leave the hens to incubate the clutch of eggs alone (usually 26 to 30 days). The drakes retire to larger bodies of water where they under go their annual feather molt.  The hens molt when their eggs hatch becoming temporarily flightless along with her ducklings.

Because they are the so common, mallards are easily the most recognizable wild duck species. It is the hens that are the most vocal. Their distinctive quacks are the calls we all identify as the quacks we identify as “duck calls.” The drakes voice is a very quiet quack. The drake’s quack almost sound like it is being softly whispered.

Mallards breed across most of the Northern Hemisphere from the Artie to the sub-tropics of Europe.   Most domestic duck species actually are attributed to have wild mallards as their origin.

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