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Life in Freshwater

Ducks

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On this page are the following Ducks:

Mallard - Shoveller - Tufted Duck

Mallard Duck, male left female on right

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) - This is the largest inland duck at 58 cm. The male has bright green head and a yellow bill, the female is brown with a purple speculum. There are many colour varieties due to their hybridisation with domestic ducks.

The most widespread and abundant duck in the British Isles, being a common sight in parks, towns and village ponds. It is common almost everywhere in Europe. Inhabits almost all waters, mainly fresh water, but on the sea in winter.

ECOLOGY: The Mallards voice is the familiar `quack'. The main courtship display ends in pairing as opposed to mating, and involves mock preening and bill dipping. They nest sometimes in trees or well concealed on the ground. It is lined with a wide range of materials and down from the parents. Once the male has mated with the female he guards her closely to make sure that no other male mates with her, this ensures that the eggs laid are his. They lay up to thirteen eggs and the incubation lasts 28 days. It takes the young seven weeks to fledge. Sometimes the parents nest so far from water that the young will face a long and hazardous journey soon after they hatch. They eat a wide range of vegetable matter and invertebrates.

Male Shoveller duck

Shoveler (Anas clypeata) - Possesses a distinctive shovel-shaped bill; this and the blue forewings on both sexes make the Shoveler identifiable. In flight, the female looks like the female Mallard, but only has one white wing bar compared to two in the Mallard. The drake has a dark head, white breast and a chestnut belly. Both up to 51cm

Found throughout most of Britain and Europe, this duck is numerous and widely distributed. Usually found on shallow, well vegetated inland waters, such as lakes, marshes and ponds.

ECOLOGY: In flight the wings seem to be set well back on the body, this is caused by the long bill. Shovelers feed on tiny seeds and animals in the water. It catches these by sieving the water through fine comb-like plates that edge its bill. This is known as dabbling. The female voice is a quack and the male's is a quiet `chook-chook'. They nest in concealed ground near to the water, it is made from vegetation and down from the parents.

Male Tufted Duck

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) - Daffy Duck has nothing on this one, just under half a metre in length at 40 - 45 cm. It is a "dumpy" diving duck (remember the shoveller was a dabbler) with a rounded head and a distinct crest which hangs down behind the head. The male is predominantly black with a white panel at the side. The female is a variable brown colour and where the male's white plumage is located it is a much lighter, flecked fawn.

A widespread species of northern Europe. The main habitat is lowland ponds and small lakes where there is plenty of floating vegetation. It may be found in the winter within sheltered sea lochs and bays. Large, deep bodies of water are avoided.

ECOLOGY: The Tufted Duck is an omnivorous diving duck. It can dive to 14 metres and is able to sustain itself for quite long periods under water. Food is collected from the bottom. This consists of molluscs, insects, fish and pond weed. Egg laying is often synchronous with a sudden abundance of food, such as insect larvae. The nest site varies and may be on the surface of the water, constructed with weed and dense vegetation. There are around 10 eggs laid and these are incubated for almost 4 weeks. If the female has to leave the nest she covers them with down. Once the chicks have hatched they begin feeding themselves (known as a precocious chick). They will be tended by the female for up to 5 or 6 weeks although 4 is the more usual. It is a migratory bird although many individuals within the more central regions of Europe will be resident

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 Classification:

 

 Kingdom

Animal

 Phylum

Chordata

 Class

Aves

 Order

 



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