What the bird… #5: Mallard
Male and female are pretty easy to distinguish. A small problem is, that there are some other female ducks looking very alike, e.g. the Gadwall, who doesn’t have the blue part on the wing* or the Eurasian Teal who is much smaller. The male Mallard is unique in his colorful breeding plumage.
Mallards start courting in fall. Here are two older blog posts about males fighting and the courtship behavior. When they have found each other they stay together until spring.
Only the females look after their little ones in spring and summer.
The shiny drake gets very dull in summer while molting and looks almost like the female. As a child I always thought that they are gone, spending summer somewhere “on holiday”. But they stay – distinguishable from the females almost only by their yellow beak.
*no blue wing feathers visible on the first photo
More information: http://vogelwarte.ch/mallard.html
Portrait in German