Nature Journal
with Photos

Mallard Identification Tips
(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)
General Information
- Large dabbling duck
- Blue speculum with white bar along both leading and
  trailing edges
- Silvery-white wing linings
- Juvenile similar to adult female
- In the southwestern United States the "Mexican
  Duck", formerly a separate species, has both sexes
  similar to the female Mallard

Adult male alternate
- Alternate plumage worn from fall through early
- Gray back
- Yellow bill
- Green head
- White ring around neck
- Chestnut breast
- Gray flanks and upperwing coverts
- Black undertail coverts contrast with white tail

Adult male basic
- Similar to adult female, but usually with chestnut
  breast and an unmarked yellowish bill

Adult female
- Orange bill with black central patch
- Pale brown face
- Dark cap and eye line
- Mottled brown and tan plumage

Similar species
Adult male in alternate plumage is unmistakable. Females, immature and eclipse-plumage males could be confused with Black Ducks, Gadwalls and Mottled Ducks, but note the blue speculum with white borders on both sides. Gadwalls are also distinctive in their steeper forehead, gray bill with orange edges and white belly patch.

Hybrid Mallard x Black Ducks are often seen and are darker than Mallards, with a more purple speculum bordered by white on one or both edges and usually show some traces of the Mallard plumage.
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