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Abundant wild duck (Anas platyrhynchos, family Anatidae) of the Northern Hemisphere, ancestor of most domestic ducks. The mallard is a typical dabbling duck in its general habits and courtship display. The drake of the common mallard (subspecies A. p. platyrhynchos) has a metallic green or purplish head, reddish breast, and light-gray body; the hen is mottled yellowish brown. Both sexes have a yellow bill and a purplish blue, white-bordered wing mark. Males and females of the Greenland mallard (A. p. conboschas) also differ markedly in plumage. In the other subspecies, both sexes resemble the female common mallard. Mallards are found throughout most of Asia, Europe, and northern North America.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on mallard, visit Britannica.com.