Drake Mallard

A drake Mallard swims in a pond in Bozeman recently.

The mallard is common and widespread throughout Montana and is one of the most frequently seen duck species in North America. Large numbers of mallards congregate on ponds throughout the Gallatin Valley, but also appear on large rivers and small streams.

The drake mallard has a dark head that may appear blue or green, a yellow bill, ruddy breast, pale body and white tail. Hen mallards exhibit a dark line through the eye, have orange legs and and an orange and black bill that may appear mottled.

During the winter months, mallards often congregate in large numbers to forage for vegetation in shallow lakes with open water. Mallards will also forage on land, particularly during the warmer months.

Mallards nest near water, commonly in residential areas, and are regular visitors to city parks and duck ponds. Most domestic ducks were originally derived from mallards.