Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Large numbers of ducks die from lead poisoning. Because they generally feed in shallow water, they readily pick up spent lead shot from pond and marsh bottoms. It just takes one lead pellet to kill an adult duck!
At up to 60 cm, the male and female are similar in length but the male is heavier. The breeding male is easily recognized by its distinctive metallic green head, yellow bill, white neck ring, brown chest, grey back and flanks, and the bright blue wing patch or speculum. The female and non-breeding male are more drab in appearance with brown heads, dull orange and black bill - the male's bill is greener - and mottled brown body.
The mallard is found throughout most of North America, except northern Quebec and parts of the eastern seaboard. This species can be seen year-round as far north as the Canada-United States border, including the Great Lakes region and the British Columbia Pacific coastline, and as far south as Mexico. Summer populations extend from southern Canada, into Alaska and the Northwest Territories. In winter, large migratory flocks are found in the southeast United States, the Baja peninsula, and the east and west coasts of Mexico.
This duck requires a freshwater habitat for breeding. For a complete species account, visit the Great Lakes section.