|Copyright: Ungureanu Liviu (Apashu)
|Date Taken: 2011-01-15|
|Exposure: f/5.6, 1/60 seconds|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2011-01-18 6:50|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|This weekend I was at the Botanical Garden on Bucharest! Because is still winter and most of the trees and flowers are still "hibernate", I've chose to make some photos with this ducks. Altough it lives there, are still wild!|
The Mallard, or Wild duck (Anas platyrhynchos), probably the best-known and most recognizable of all ducks, is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and sub-tropical Americas, Europe, Asia, New Zealand (where it is currently the most common duck species), and Australia.
The male birds have a bright green head, while the female's is light brown. The Mallard lives in wetlands, eats water plants, and is gregarious. It is also migratory. The Mallard is the ancestor of all domestic ducks, and can interbreed with other species of genus Anas. This interbreeding is causing rarer species of ducks to become genetically diluted.
The Mallard is 56–65 centimetres (22–26 in) long, has a wingspan of 81–98 centimetres (32–39 in), and weighs 0.9–1.2 kilograms (32–42 oz). The breeding male is unmistakable, with a bright green head, black rear end and a yellowish orange (can also contain some red) bill tipped with black (as opposed to the dark brown bill in females). The female Mallard is light brown, like most female dabbling ducks. However, both the female and male Mallards have distinct purple speculum edged with white, prominent in flight or at rest (though temporarily shed during the annual summer moult). In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage the drake becomes drab, looking more like the female, but still distinguishable by its yellow bill and reddish breast.
In captivity, domestic ducks come in wild-type plumages, white, and other colours. Most of these colour variants are also known in domestic Mallards not bred as livestock, but kept as pets, aviary birds, etc., where they are rare but increasing in availability.
A noisy species, the male has a nasal call, the female has a "quack" stereotypically associated with ducks.
The Mallard is a rare example of both Allen's Rule and Bergmann's Rule in birds. Bergmann's Rule, which states that polar forms tend to be larger than related ones from warmer climates, has numerous examples in birds. Allen's Rule says that appendages like ears tend to be smaller in polar forms to minimize heat loss, and larger in tropical and desert equivalents to facilitate heat diffusion, and that the polar taxa are stockier overall. Examples of this rule in birds are rare, as they lack external ears. However, the bill of ducks is very well supplied with blood vessels and is vulnerable to cold.
The Mallard inhabits most wetlands, including parks, small ponds and rivers, and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing; there are reports of it eating frogs. It usually nests on a river bank, but not always near water. It is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks, which are known as a sord.
It is strongly migratory in the northern parts of its breeding range, and winters farther south. For example, in North America it winters south to Mexico, but also regularly strays into Central America and the Caribbean between September and May.
Mallards usually form pairs only until the female lays eggs, at which time she is left by the male. 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 can swim and feed themselves on insects as soon as they hatch, although they stay near the female for protection.
Although most Mallard drakes would normally leave the hen after she has laid her eggs, very few like this one are known to remain longer to become the leader of the family.
When they pair off with mating partners, often one or several drakes will end up "left out". This group will sometimes target an isolated female duck, even when she's of a different species, and proceed to chase and peck at her until she weakens, at which point each male will take turns copulating with the female. Lebret (1961) calls this behaviour 'Attempted Rape Flight' (ARF) and Cramp & Simmons (1977) speak of 'rape-intent flights'. Male Mallards will also occasionally chase other male ducks of a different species, and even each other, in the same way. In one documented case of 'homosexual necrophilia', a male Mallard copulated with another male he was chasing after said male had been killed upon flying into a glass window.
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