A drake in flight -
The Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos, is a common and widespread dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and sub-tropical areas of North America, Europe and Asia. It is probably the best-known of all ducks.
This dabbling duck is strongly migratory in the northern parts of its breeding range, and winters further south. It is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks.
The breeding male is unmistakeable, with a green head, black rear end and a blue speculum edged with white, obvious in flight or at rest.
The females are light brown, with plumage much like most female dabbling ducks. They can be distinguished from other ducks, by the distinctive speculum.
In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female.
It is a bird of most wetlands, including parks and small ponds, and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing. It nests on the ground, not always particularly near water.
This is a noisy species. The male has a nasal call, whereas the female has the very familiar "quack" always associated with ducks.
A hen mallard with ducklings
A mallard drake
The Mallard was also the name of a famous English steam train; see Mallard (train).