The Mallard is the most recognizable species of waterfowl, often being the only species of duck present in ponds and small streams near cities and towns. This large duck is about 20 to 24 inches long with an oval-shaped body and short tail. Males are splotchy brown and tan with a green head and yellow bill, while females are speckled brown and tan with a dull brown bill. Both sexes have orange legs and a blue diamond on the wings. The Mallard is common across North America and Eurasia. This species may be found from the Arctic Circle south to the tropics. While some Mallard populations migrate between separate breeding and wintering grounds, many populations living in human-altered environments are non-migratory. Mallards are usually found in and around rivers, streams, lakes, or ponds. They eat a variety of foods, including insects, snails, and grains. Mallards are often present in large numbers where ducks are fed by humans. Mallards are often found floating on the water’s surface, occasionally dabbling (submerging their head and chest while their legs and tail stick out of the water) to find food. These ducks are also capable of taking off directly from the water. They may also be found on land, where they may be observed walking, or in the air, where they may be observed making swift and direct flights between bodies of water. They are most active during the day.
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