A Species Profile on Mallards

A Species Profile on Mallards

Duck hunting in North America usually means that mallards are the target species.  A big flock of greenheads flying into a decoy spread instills excitement into the hearts of even the most seasoned duck hunters.

Mallards are the most common North American duck species, and the most commonly hunted. They can be found in most every state and are widely available through Canada and Mexico as well. Besides the ready availability of mallards, they are popular with hunters because of the relative predictability of their movements and the fine quality of their meat.

Scientific Name
Anas platyrhynchos

A.K.A.
Greenheads (males); Susies (females.)

Bar Room Banter
Since 1914, over 6 million Mallards have been fitted with ankle bands by waterfowl researchers; of those, over 1-million were killed by hunters who then reported the band numbers along with the date and place of harvest to authorities. This data has helped wildlife managers and other scientists understand the complex migratory patterns of North American wildlife.

Physical Characteristics
Males, or drakes, have iridescent green heads with a white ring on the neck and a yellow bill; back and wings are gray-brown; bellies are light gray; feet are orange. Females, or hens, are mottled brown with a light brown head and belly. Both drakes and hens have blue speculum feathers that are outlined in white. Mallards weigh upwards of 3 ½ pounds.

Habitat
Mallards can be found in almost any wetland habitat, including rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, prairie potholes, beaver ponds, farm ponds, irrigation ditches, flooded timber and crop fields, and urban park ponds. They breed throughout the northern U.S., Canada, and Alaska, and generally migrate southward when water sources begin to freeze. Huge numbers winter across the American South.

Diet
Mallards will eat a variety of aquatic plants and agricultural crops. During breeding season, they feed readily on aquatic protein sources.

Life and Death
All puddle ducks can fall victim to numerous dangers. A host of predators, including snakes and rodents, will steal eggs from nests. Avian predators, large fish, and aquatic and terrestrial predatory mammals will kill juvenile and adult mallards. Despite their substantial predator load, a mallard can live to be well over ten years old in the wild. (One captive mallard lived to be 27 years old.)

Breeding and Reproduction
Mallard hens typically nest in shoreline grasses or cattails, laying 1-13 eggs.

Telltale Sign
Look for feathers and tracks around shorelines and muddy banks.

Edibility
Excellent when cooked to medium-rare. Overcooked mallard has an off-putting livery quality.

Mallards are the king of the puddle ducks. They are big, abundant, and fun to hunt. They are also excellent to eat. This Alaskan mallard has been plucked and gutted. Now it’s getting slow-roasted over a fire.

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Ground Control Pack On Sale
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First Lite
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Hauls everything Waterfowl hunters need for long mornings of directing air traffic into the landing zone. Multiple carry configurations, stowable backpack straps, external molle panels, internal folding dividers, and a sonic-welded bathtub design to keep your gear dry through seasons of abuse on the water.
LZ Jacket On Sale
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A full-season waterproof Waterfowl jacket designed to fit over varying degrees of insulating layers to keep you warm down to 30°F. The LZ is patterned for wing-shooting with heavily articulated arms and specialty pocketing optimized for security and quick access to essential gear.
Refuge Bib On Sale
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A Waterfowl bib built for performance in the extreme cold of late season field hunting with a robust insulation package, durable waterproof/windproof fabrication, and an extensive feature set optimized for pit and layout blinds.
Mallard Fully Flocked Floating 6 Pack
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Dakota Decoy
$129.99
These are designed to give hunters the most life-like duck decoy they can get.
Packable Mallard 6 Pack Painted Heads
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Dakota Decoy
$79.99
The decoys are lightweight, collapsible, and packable for those who must carry their decoys into the honey hole.
Refuge Parka On Sale
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First Lite
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The Refuge Parka was built for performance in the extreme conditions of the late season with its robust insulation package, durable waterproof materials, and an extensive feature set optimized for every moment of the hunt.
Refuge Muff On Sale
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$72.00 $90.00 -20%
Built to keep cold, wet hands warm and digits nimble in the extreme conditions of the late season with its waterproof/windproof fabrication, hi-loft merino sherpa fleece liner, and exclusive zip-open design for quick drying between hunts.
Flight Series Panel Blind
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Tanglefree
A revolutionary new concealment system from Tanglefree. Offering the ultimate in portability and concealment to effectively hunt field edges, cattail sloughs, standing corn, river banks, and even in the middle of the field from a sitting position while being completely concealed.
Little Buddy Dog Blind
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Tanglefree
Keep your favorite hunting partner concealed and protected from the harshest conditions. Built with a corrosion resistant aluminum frame, rugged 600D coated Polyester, a double entry door, extra stubble straps for adaptability and a low profile, your companion will be ready to work all day.
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