Mallard Duck

One of the most colorful birds that you’ll find on our campus is the Mallard Duck:

File:Anas platyrhynchos male female quadrat.jpg

(Original image licensed Creative Commons – Attribution, Share-Alike)

What they look like: One thing unique to this waterfowl bird is that it looks completely different as a male or female! The male mallard has an unusual green head, a white ring around its neck, with light brown plumage and a white body.

The female looks like it’s dressed in camouflage, with brownish gray spots and an orange beak. But like the male’s green head, the female has a purple-blue feathered area on its side to help it stand out more. Both genders have their central feathers curved up around its back as it swims.

Where you’ll see them: Go east, young ornithologist! Mallards are found in the Piedmont or Coastal Plain regions of North Carolina. Also, they can almost always be found in wetlands, whether it’s near the shore, or in the water. They tend to migrate a lot, and are very common in general, making them easy to spot all over the country!

What they eat: Living in a wetland, mallards have to feed on what they find. You can almost say they’re filter feeders! Mallard’s main foods are insects, vegetation, grain, and aquatic invertebrates. They can also eat acorns and seeds at times. They don’t seem to be very picky eaters!

What they sound like: This duck makes a rasping noise called a “rab”. If you listen closely, it can almost sound like someone is laughing! Well, more like cackling! It also makes grunts and whistles.

Where you can learn more about them: If you want to see these birds in action, check out this neat video.  Of course, you can always check out the Cornell Lab Site, made by the people who came up with this bird watching project.


Written by Anthony D, Ryan S, and Kush C


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