Mallard. ( Anas platyrhynchos )
This month I have the Mallard for the monthly article on Common birds of India. The Drake was very robust and in prime age. His sheer glistening caught my eye and I had to really approach him with stealth to get a shot. These being very wary birds take off
at the slightest disturbance.
Very similar to our domestic duck in size and coloration these birds are very adept at water and air both. The Drakes are grey above and below with well marked black colorations. The head is glistening dark green which goes right down to the neck with a
well marked white collar. The chest is chestnut colored in matured males and two prominent white bands on the wings, with metallic blue in between. In drakes there will be two upcurled feathers near the rump on the tail. A typical yellowish duckbill with orange
legs. There is sexual dimorphism and the ducks are a dull brownish grey with slight grey markings on the wing feathers.
Flocks of these birds can be seen in Lakes foraging with a " bottom up " fashion typical to ducks, feeding among the submerged weeds. These birds are more restricted to North west India and may visit the Deccan area also.
The walk of this bird a gawky undulating one which when at the slightest disturbance takes off to air rapidly. A very strong flier these birds can be airborne in no time.
The duck makes the typical " Quack....Quack ...." call and the drake's is more or less a harsh murmur. They are often found in pairs at the banks of lakes among the border reeds, while resting. They are found to be standing on one leg with the neck withdrawn
close to their backs with the mate reposing quietly beside.
These wild birds are the ancestors of all our domestic breeds of Ducks, bred by selective breeding. Next to the Domestic fowl ducks are the only birds that are raised on farms for their eggs.
Breeding season is around May- June and the nests are made with clumps of weeds and grass among the reeds on lake shores. Normally six to ten eggs are laid slightly greenish or yellowish and larger than the domestic fowl' s. It is really a marvelous sight
to see the parent taking the young ducklings to water in a single line formation.
A marvellous bird and fellow being on this planet, it is upto everyone to keep our lakes and ponds in their pristine conditions before the Mallard will go, like the many species have gone. The Pink-headed Duck is an example for this which has gone-to extinction.
Once we loose a species, there is nothing we can do to bring them back.