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Male vs Female Mallard: Identifying the Differences (With Pictures)

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Male vs Female Mallard

Also known as the wild duck, the Mallard Duck is naturally found in regions such as North Africa, Eurasia, and the subtropical Americas. This large duck features a heavy body with flat and wide bills. Moreover, it is one of the dabbling birds with a rounded head, long body, and a tail that rides above the water, giving a unique blunt shape.

In a few regions, this duck is considered to have an invasive nature. However, it is an adaptable species that can easily thrive in most urban areas.

What’s more, this duck loves the water. You can easily spot it near the rivers and ponds. These ducks can grow up to 2 feet long and weigh as heavy as 3.5 pounds. The Mallard duck is an omnivore, meaning they love eating plants and animals.

There are so many interesting facts about this duck that we can go on and on, but the most imperative information to cover here is the differences between the male and female Mallard ducks.

Yes, they are not all that similar, and in this article, we will cover it all.

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At a Glance

Male vs Female Mallard side by side

Image Credit: Left: (Male Mallard)pixel2013, Pixabay, Right: (Female Mallard) Ralphs_Fotos, Pixabay

Male Mallard Duck Breed
  • Origin: Native to Asia, America, and Europe
  • Size: 7–26.6 inches
  • Lifespan: 5–10 years
  • Domesticated: Yes
Female Mallard Duck Breed
  • Origin: Native to Asia, America, and Europe
  • Size: 19.7–26.6 inches
  • Lifespan: 5–10 years
  • Domesticated: Yes

eagle dividerMale Mallard Duck Overview

mallard duck on grass

Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

Referred to as a Drake, a male Mallard duck has many features and characteristics that make it easy to differentiate it from its female counterparts.

Characteristics and Appearance

All male Mallards have dark-colored green heads with a beautiful yellow bill. They have a gray body that falls between a black rear and a brown breast. What’s more, a male Mallard duck or Drake has unique white tail feathers and thick necks. Furthermore, the make Mallard ducks have many distinct behavioral properties. For instance, these ducks court female ducks by moving their heads from one side to another. Moreover, when confronted by the other male duck, Drake makes threatening moves while opening its bill and performs an acrobatic chase.

A Mallard duck is a noisy species. The male Mallard duck has a typical quack but is a lot deep and quiet. This duck loves feeding in the water and enjoys underwater plants.

One of the exciting characteristics of this duck is that it doesn’t dive. Instead, it enjoys the city pounds often in groups and welcomes other dabbling ducks.

Male Mallards can get pretty aggressive during the breeding period. They repeatedly peck on their rivals’ chests and, on rare occasions, often end up ripping their skin and feathers. At times some male ducks that fail to find a partner usually target a lonely and isolated female duck and chase it until it weakens. They typically chase some male duck species in the same pattern.

male mallard duck standing near the water

Image credit: AnnaER, Pixabay

Uses

Domestic Mallard male ducks are often kept at home for their meat. Furthermore, people also enjoy consuming their eggs that have a unique, intense flavor.

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Female Mallard Duck Overview

female mallard duck

Image Credit: VancouverLami, Pixabay

Mallard ducks can live in both artificial and natural habitats. Their female versions are called Hens and are pretty different from the male ducks.

Characteristics and Appearance

For starters, female Mallard ducks feature brown-speckled plumage. They also have brown and orange bills. Unlike male Mallard ducks, the females don’t have a black tail curl. The appearance of a female Mallard duck is predominantly mottled. Every feather of this duck shows a deep contrast and features buff cheeks, throats, eyebrows, and necks. In addition, this duck has a dark eye stripe and a crown.

What’s more, the female Mallard ducks or Hens eight to 13 creamy white or spotless greenish eggs at a time. The nesting season starts as soon as spring begins. The female Mallard is accompanied by male Mallards and awaits the molting period together during this period. Female Mallard ducks usually have their nesting sites on the ground. But many prefer to nest in trees, balconies, and roof gardens.

During the peak of the breeding season, the female Mallard duck can get immensely aggressive. They usually carry inciting displays that encourage other birds to initiate a fight. Some believe this practice helps the female ducks evaluate their possible partners’ strengths.

Female Mallard ducks are pretty loud. You can hear them quacking from a long distance as they love showing their presence. They use this sound to call other ducks and their ducklings. The “quacking” sound of a female Mallard is called the decrescendo call or a hail call.

mallard ducks in snow

Image Credit: Jahor, Shutterstock

Uses

Most people keep female Mallard ducks at home and enjoy their rich meat. However, they also keep female ducks to lay eggs with a rich flavor.

What Are the Differences Between a Male Mallard and Female Mallard Duck?

A pair of Mallard ducks resting

Image Credit: Robert Adami, Shutterstock

You might have already grasped the differences between a male and female mallard, but here is a summary for you:

  • A female Mallard duck is referred to as a Hen, while a male is known as the Drake.
  • The male Mallard duck has a dark-colored head and a bright yellow bill. On the other hand, a female Mallard features a brown-speckled plumage with an orange and brown bill. Both sexes have blue feathers and measure between 20–26 inches.
  • Female Mallard ducks don’t have a black tail curl like their male partners.
  • Both sexes are loud, but when compared, the female Mallard ducks are noisier than their male counterparts. Female ducks often call their ducklings, creating a loud noise they can hear from a long distance.
  • During the breeding season, both ducks can get quite aggressive. However, males can even scratch the skin and feathers of other male Mallards.
  • Most male Mallard ducks move their heads aggressively to court female ducks. However, the female ducks are much more patient in this regard.
  • Since female Mallard ducks are involved in nesting, they often choose places such as balconies and grounds to nest.

hummingbird dividerWhich Is Right for You?

A male and a female Mallard duck have many similarities and differences. For instance, they are both pretty loud and aggressive. They look alike in their feathers, but their beaks and body features are distinctly different.

What’s more, a Mallard male duck is known as Drake, while the female is called the Hen. However, both sexes love the water and enjoy being around the ponds every time. Besides, their life span is usually between five to ten years.

Both ducks are domesticated, meaning people keep them at home for their meat. However, when it comes to female ducks, they lay eggs that most people enjoy consuming.

Both sexes have their own place on this earth. And it is safe to say that one isn’t complete without the other.


Featured Image Credit: S. Hermann / F. Richter, Pixabay 

About the Author Jeff Weishaupt

Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.

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