Fun Facts about Mallards

  • The mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is a duck that breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and belongs to the subfamily Anatinae, of the waterfowl family Anatidae.
  • The male birds (drakes) have a distinctive glossy green head, a yellow bill and are grey on the wings and belly, while the females (hens) have mainly brown-speckled plumage.
  • Mallards live in wetlands, eat water plants and a variety of invertebrates such as crustaceans and insects, and are social animals that prefer to congregate in flocks.
  • Most breeds of domesticated ducks are descendants of the mallard.
  • Mallards breed in pairs in the UK in summer and winter, but only until the female lays eggs at the start of nesting season, which is around the beginning of spring.
  • They are commonly bred for waterfowl hunting and domestic consumption.
  • Mallards are best known by the "quack" sound that they produce. Typical quacks are produced by females, while males are quieter and produce a rasping sound.
  • The oldest known mallard died when it was 27 years old.
  • Famous ducks include Donald Duck, Daffy Duck, The Ugly Duckling (yes, cygnets are ducks too!), Count Duckula, Rubber Duckie from Sesame Street and Ferdinand the Duck from the film Babe. It's best not to mention Howard the Duck.

Closeup of a Mallar - (C) Chris Pitt


Why we need to protect Mallards

Wildfowling or waterfowl shooting is the practice of shooting ducks, geese, or other waterfowl, with duck shooting the most prevalent. Only certain species of wildfowl may legally be shot in the UK and are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. These are mallard, wigeon, teal, pochard, shoveller, pintail, gadwall, goldeneye, tufted duck, Canada goose, white-fronted goose (England and Wales only), greylag goose and pink-footed goose.  Mallards are the most prolific and heavily shot victim of duck shooting in the UK, which is why they need protecting. The open season for mallards is normally from 1st September to 31st January, with an extension which applies below the high water mark of ordinary spring tides on the coasts across England, Wales and Scotland, until 20th February. Northern Ireland has its own legislation.

The other ducks and geese shot by wildfowlers also need protection, but game farmers have now started to extensively rear mallards - specifically for shooting - as they do with partridges and pheasants, yet another reason to protect them.

Shooting waterfowl birds on swamp


What is the League doing to protect Mallards

  • We are continuing to lobby and educate politicians and the public about the cruelty of the shooting industry.
  • As mallards are captive-bred in the same way as partridges and pheasants, we want to include them in our campaigns against commercial shooting.


How can I help mallards?

  • Write to your MP and express your concern about waterfowl shooting.
  • Join one of our supporter groups to help us raise awareness about shooting.
  • Share this page on your social media.

Find out more

  • Check out more information on our shooting page.