Common Name: Mallard, Mallard Duck
Scientific Name: Anas platyrhynchos
A male mallard in breeding plumage is instantly recognizable and unmistakable. The bright yellow bill contrasts with the iridescent green head, which is bordered by a white collar midway down the neck. The chest is a rich chestnut and leads to grayish white underparts. The back is grayish brown, and the blue speculum on the wings is bordered by thick white lines. The rump and undertail coverts are black and contrast with white outer tail feathers, and the legs and feet are a bright orange.
While coloration is always a good field mark, molting mallards may not look quite the same. For drakes, however, a key field mark is the tightly curled tail feathers that are prominently visible on the top of the rump. While hybrid mallards or young drakes may not show this feature as clearly, any lift or curl to these tail feathers will indicate a male mallard. Females, however, lack these curly tail feathers.
Photo © Derrick Coetzee