It is often possible to observe how waterfowl swim in ponds. Wild ducks are the most common type of such birds. People often feed them with different foods. However, not everyone knows that many products are harmful to the health of birds. What is a duck of a common mallard, how does it live and what does it eat in the wild?
Description of the species
Wild ducks belong to the family of Ducks of the Anseriformes. People call them mallards. It is believed that this species of birds is adapted to seasonal migration. Mallards are large. Among other species, they are distinguished by characteristic external signs of:
- streamlined shape flattened body,
- short neck
- small head,
- flat and wide beak with teeth and horn plates on the sides,
- the presence of a layer of subcutaneous fat,
- powerful paws resembling flippers, equipped with membranes.
Females and males are significantly different in color. The male is a duck, the drake is much larger in size and has a more colorful plumage. If you look at the female and the male, you get the impression that various bird species. The weight of the drake varies between 1.6 and 2 kg, since in summer the birds weigh less. Females weigh about 1 kg. The weight and quality of food affects the weight of the bird.
The bird's body is about 60 cm long, and its wingspan reaches 1 meter. The length of the wing of the female is 28 cm, and that of the drake is slightly shorter - 26 cm. The color of the mallard ducks helps them to hide in natural conditions Wednesday habitat where they live. The female mallard has a brown plumage color that resembles a camouflage color. Her belly has a richer shade. The bill is dark gray or olive. Paws of a bird draw attention with red or orange color.
Drakes look more attractive. The neck and head of the male casts a dark green color. On the neck of the males there is a noticeable rim of white. Their paws are orange, and chest and goiter chestnut color. In males, the beak is only olive green. The color of the drake is always attractive to females.
Area of distribution and habitat
More widely mallard is common in the northern hemisphere. They nest in northern latitudes, as well as in warm subtropical climates. In the European part, they are common everywhere. The only exceptions are the highlands of Scandinavia.
Mallards are partly migratory the birds. For example, in Greenland or Iceland, some birds do not leave their places. The rest of the birds are sent to the British Isles. Most mallards living in Europe are sedentary.
Like many species of mallard ducks, they usually live near water bodies or marshland. Birds love rivers with a steady flow, as well as shallow lakes and ponds. Necessary conditions for habitat ducks are the following requirements:
- densely growing shrubs,
- old fallen trees.
All of these conditions will serve as their natural disguise for protection. They are necessary for birds to spend the night, as well as for laying and hatching eggs. For this reason, ducks are practically not found on lakes or rivers where there is no vegetation on the banks.
Despite the fact that the mallards are very shy, they can also settle in the city. They quickly get used to people if they feed them and approach them very close.
In our latitudes, ducks can remain, if the reservoirs do not freeze. Many birds migrate for winter to countries with more warm climate:
- southern part of China and Europe
- north india
- Gulf of Mexico.
They prefer to settle near shallow reservoirs with a sufficient amount of feed.
What do mallard ducks eat?
In terms of food, this species of birds is quite unpretentious. This feature of the species helps them to adapt to different habitat conditions. Mostly food they find in the reservoirs nearby. Ducks are periodically immersed in water to find food in the pond. During the search for food, you can see how only the paws and the back of the mallard body stick out of the water. With the help of an elongated head, the birds find at the bottom the most varied food:
- small fish
- aquatic insects,
- snails and slugs,
- algae and roots
- little frogs,
- duckweed, which often falls into the water surface with stagnant water.
The last type of food is a real delicacy for mallards. The way of obtaining food affects the choice of the bird’s habitat, since it can sink to a certain the depth. With the onset of summer, ducks often fly over to the fields where cereals grow. Such food serves as an additional source of nutrition.
Filtration of plant and animal food is carried out in the shallow water of a duck. Filtration occurs through the horny plates of the beak. In the summer, birds mainly feed on plant food. Females need twice as much food to breed future offspring.
If there is a desire to feed such waterfowl in the near pond or on the lake, you should know that useful for them food will be:
- grated cheese
- soft vegetables and fruits
They can not be fed white bread, because such a product causes them to have a feeling of fullness. In fact, false satiety makes them abandon the search for their usual food. Ducks are not recommended to give a lot of food, as the birds quickly become accustomed to such food and then do not want to get food on their own. Some of them refuse to fly to warm countries for the winter and as a result die.
After a year of life, the birds are ready to mate. In sedentary individuals, mating occurs in autumn, and in migratory birds in spring. Already in March, they appear in areas nesting, while there is still ice on the water. Females very often fly to more southern latitudes, therefore they return to nesting sites later than drakes.
Couples are formed already on wintering, and some keep the relations from last season. Beautiful males begin to care for female ducks. They arrange wedding dances, trying to win the sympathy of a duck. Often there are fights between drakes because of females. Sometimes ducks themselves provoke fights between the drakes.
Mallards nest in pairs or family small colonies. Usually drakes are larger in numbers than females. This is due to the frequent death of birds after a period of incubation of eggs and hatching of chicks.
The activity of the drakes begins in early spring and lasts until the month of May. Several males gather in a flock and swim around females. When the duck chooses a mate for itself, it starts swimming around the chosen one and nods, tilting its head back. The male constantly keeps around the chosen one before hatching eggs. Almost always the duck takes care of the future offspring.
Nests arrange in thickets similar to grooves in the grass or on the ground. On it the down is laid out along the edges, and inside they spread soft and dry grass. In one clutch, females usually lay 7–12 eggs. They are white with a greenish tint. During the incubation of eggs, the drake flies away for molting.
Less than a month later, chicks appear and 10 hours after their appearance, the duck leads them to the water. She begins to teach them to swim and dive. Ducklings grow very quickly, and in a month their weight will be about 1 kg. Young ducklings can eat on their own without the help of mom. 50 days after birth, the youngsters can fly. In the wild, mallards live 15-20 years, and in captivity can live 25 years or longer.
Description and habitat
With a varied and sufficient diet, the weight of the female reaches up to 1.5 kg, the male - 2 kg. The length of the body is 57 cm, the drake is 60 cm. The length of the duck's wing is 30 cm. The wingspan is 100 cm. This species of wild ducks develops well in captivity, therefore it is bred by farmers.
The appearance of the male and female is strikingly different. Females are inconspicuous, their color merges with the general appearance of the coastal line: brownish plumage, darker on the abdomen, dark brown or olive beak, red or orange paws. The inconspicuousness and ability to blend in with the duck's environment is due to the need to survive to save offspring.
Handsome-drakes are significantly different from their girlfriends. A greenish or emerald head with a tint, a white rim on the neck, chestnut feathers in the area of the goiter and chest, an olive beak and bright orange paws make the mallard male too noticeable. Bright appearance of the drake is also designed to divert the attention of predators and hunters from the female and offspring.
The range of the mallard duck is wide. Ducks settle throughout Eurasia, in some areas of the USA, Africa, New Zealand, Australia.
Mallard duck - migratory bird. Winter birds are sent to regions with a mild climate, such as Iraq, Iran, Southern Europe, India, southern China, the Gulf of Mexico, and so on. In some regions, the ducks remain for the winter with non-freezing water.
Lifestyle and nutrition
Like all species of ducks, ducks mallard settles nearby near shallow lakes, slowly flowing rivers, swamps. Not only freshwater, but also salted. The main condition for the settlement of ducks is the presence of camouflage barriers on the coast. Ducks feel safe in dense thickets of dead trees, shrubs, reeds. Mallard ducks do not settle in reservoirs with open and rocky shores, since ducks need natural shelters for safe feeding, overnight stays, and hatching eggs. Despite caution and fearfulness, ducks quite often lodge in urban reservoirs, where they are tamed, constantly feeding them.
Attention! By feeding the crumbs, the man harms the wild birds. Duck bread is harmful - it causes diseases that lead to the death of a bird.
Mallard ducks can live in flocks (up to several hundred individuals), and in pairs and even singly. The life expectancy of a duck in the wild is presumably 15 years; in captivity, with good care and proper diet, mallards live up to 25 years.
In addition to humans, ducks have a lot of enemies in the wild. Ducks are hunted:
- other birds (hawks, falcons, large gulls and crows, etc.),
- predators (foxes, martens, minks, skunks, raccoon dogs, otters, etc.).
In feeding ducks, mallards are unpretentious and feed exclusively on what they find in reservoirs, namely:
The way of feeding ducks determines the habitat - the mallards settle in shallow reservoirs, because they can not dive to great depths. Mallard ducks do not like swift and deep rivers, as they do not dive after gathering food, but pick up from the bottom, submerging the body under water and leaving the tail and paws on the surface.
By the year the grown-up birds are ready for mating, therefore, since the fall, sedentary ducks are created couples that spend the winter together. In migratory birds, couples form at the nesting site. The breeding season occurs from April to August, depending on whether it is resident or migratory. In flocks of drakes more than females, because of this, fights and aggression are not uncommon. The winning male chooses the female and begins the courtship ritual. It happens that the wicker chooses a pair, circling around the chosen one.
Duck nests are arranged not far from water. The male actively participates in the arrangement of the nest and in the protection of the territory. Throughout the clutch, the drake protects the duck and flies away for molting only when the duck starts to hatch eggs.
In clutch there are 7-12 whites with a greenish tint of eggs weighing 50 g. If the female leaves for a short time, she warms the eggs with a fluff collected in the nest. If the first clutch dies, the female re-lays eggs. Usually the second clutch is unfertilized.
On the 26-28th day of incubation ducklings hatch from eggs. After 12 hours, the duck leads the brood of ducklings to the water. Young animals quickly gain weight and by the end of the first month they weigh from 800 grams. up to 1 kg
So, the mallard is the most famous species of wild ducks. They are omnivorous and adapt to any natural conditions. Therefore, these birds are settled on all continents except Antarctica.
Feeding wild ducks
Ornithologists distinguish some groups of ducks. Among them, river, diving, peganki, duck-steamers who can not fly, and all the time spent in the pond. Feeding birds depends on their habitat. Birds of the river species are always located in shallow water. Among them, the most common are the mallard, teal, sviyaz, pintail, gray duck. Their beak is flat with tubercles on the inside.
Birds feed on vegetation and on the reservoir, and on the shore. They are able to dive, but they are not completely submerged in water. They dive to get roots and leaves of plants, mollusks and small crustaceans from a shallow bottom. In river ducks observed diet. They spend the whole day on the water or in the coastal vegetation; at night, flocks make flights to fields with cereals. What river ducks eat:
- birds hunt to eat vegetation, which is located on the surface of the water. These include duckweed, rogolniki, vodokras frog. Some podvortsy collect algae and for domestic livestock, make harvesting for the winter,
- ducks eat the fruit and stalks of the ridge comb. It is easy to reach in the shallow waters
- on the shore, they eat plantain, dandelions, clover,
- fly over to the fields with wheat, millet, rye, barley.
Sometimes you can watch a duck eat fish. During the molting period, the birds need minerals and a lot of protein, so they catch in the shallow water fry and tadpoles, fish or frog eggs, insects that live on the pond. Sometimes ducks eat frogs, but amphibians are not their main food. Individuals catch frogs and toads rarely, only until their feathers grow or the egg production ends.
Diving ducks prefer deep ponds. Most of the time they spend in the pond, they rarely go ashore, do not fly over to the fields with cereals. Among the diving species emit diving and black. Deep lakes prefer coot.
Birds are able to dive to a greater depth, up to 6-7 m. Under the water, they remain long enough, sailing a distance of 10 m. At the same time, they quickly work with wings and limbs. Their beak is narrower than that of river ducks. The teeth on the inner edge are well defined:
- ducks of diving kind eat fish, and, not only small, but also rather large. They are able to eat herring up to 20 cm long,
- from the bottom they reach mollusks and crustaceans,
- ducklings in the first days feed on aquatic vegetation,
- parents bring them fry, fish spawn. They teach their offspring to dive. The young begin to fish on their own closer to 30 days of age.
Amphibians live in water near the shore, so diving duck breeds, being birds living at depth, do not eat frogs. Amphibians get into the diet only when ducks come ashore, but they rarely do so. The hunters are not trying to get a duck or dive. Their meat has a specific flavor.
A duck in a park pond eats the same food as individuals on open water bodies. Often they are fed up by children and adults resting in the park. They throw bread, biscuits, leftover pizza and hot dogs into the pond. Birds eat everything, but the benefits of such unnatural food for them will be small. Rather, it will harm the body of the bird. Ornithologists urge not to feed wild ducks bakery products.
What to give wild ducks?
Birds in the wild are able to get their own food. Feed them in a pinch. Such cases may be too dry weather, which leads to drying out of water bodies. Sometimes birds incorrectly determine climate change, do not feel the approach of frost.
Duck flocks remain on the reservoir, do not have time to migrate when the lake is covered with ice. There is no food for them in frozen or dry reservoirs. They need human help.
These phenomena occur very rarely. Most often, when there is a shortage of food in the pond, the flock flies away in search of other reservoirs, where it finds food for itself. Instinct also rarely brings the birds. Usually they prepare for migration at the first frost, not waiting for the water to freeze.
A sick or wounded bird that is not capable of making a long-distance flight may remain on the reservoir. So weakened individuals need help. Usually, people take them to their poultry houses.
Ornithologists warn that feeding birds may serve them a disservice. What is the harm of unnecessary "charity" of a person:
What does a duck look like?
Outwardly, the keeper is very similar to the Mallard, but it is smaller in size. The length of the body of the drake is 52 cm, the females are 40 cm. The body mass of the male is 1 kg, the female weighs no more than 500 g. The duck lives in shallow water and in deep water. Its distinctive feature is a wide beak. It is 7 cm long. At the base it is narrower than the end. This is due to the diet of the bird. It is more convenient for her to filter water through a wide beak.
An interesting description of how duck families get their own food. The Siberian-weaver eats not only algae, but also crustaceans, mollusks, insect larvae, fry. The duck lowers its beak into the water, collecting plants, searches for insects on the surface of the water.
She can dive, but she doesn’t dive completely under water. To get food from the bottom of the pond, the birds begin to rotate on the water, making a whirlpool. This whirlpool lifts algae, crustaceans and other food from the bottom:
- Birds have sexual dimorphism. Селезни в брачный период отличаются от самок своим оперением. Самцы яркие. Самки имеют скромный окрас пера. Он бурого цвета с белыми вкраплениями. Перо различного оттенка образует на теле индивидуальный узор. Особенно красив он в области воротниковой зоны. Бурое перо с белым кантом смотрится на утке очень нарядно,
- the head of the drake is dark with a green tint. The iris of the eye is bright yellow. Eyes stand out against a dark background of plumage
- neck dark brown, smooth, with a white collar,
- back black with blue and green shades. The same plumage has a tail and uppertail,
- sides and abdomen white,
- the mirror of both the drake and the female form bright green primary feathers. Kaimu is brown plumage.
The birds are quiet. Their voice is deaf, quiet, hoarse. They shout only when it is necessary to warn the flock of impending danger. They fly in silence. In the mating season, drakes do not make trills, as males of other species of ducks do.
The puffin duck is a migratory bird From Europe, ducks migrate to Bulgaria and Romania, on the Black Sea coast. From Central Europe, the noon migrates to Africa, Northern Nigeria, Uganda, and the Red Sea coast. From the northern and central parts of Asia, ducks fly to Iraq, Iran, and Transcaucasia. Some birds reach Japan and Australia. The Northern Shepherd migrates to Mexico, the Antilles.