Tuesday, August 3, 2010


As the Summer progresses, I continue to see Mallards with their ducklings swimming in ponds around the area. For a while now, I've been noticing that its always the female parent that is with the ducklings. It seemed a bit strange to me, but I didn't give it much thought. However, as the weeks go by I began to realize that not only are there no males with the ducklings, there aren't any males period. Where have they gone?
The picture above was taken at Fernhill Wetland on Sunday where again I saw plenty of Mallards, but no males. So it was time to figure out what was going on. It turns out that the after breeding, the males molt and are left with coloring very close to the female. Its called their Eclipse Plumage. So, the males haven't disappeared, they are just incognito.
Based on my reading, the males should still have a clear yellow bill, so I assume the two in the image above are both female since their bill coloring is that of a female. But I will be on the lookout from now on for female looking Mallards will yellow bills. Hopefully I will see some and my missing male Mallard mystery will be solved.

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