© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.
- Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
- Appearance: A largish dabbling duck. Best identified in all plumages by a broad blue speculum wing panel edged with black and white lines on either side.
- Size: Length 50–60 cm, wingspan 79–87 cm, weight 0.9–1.3 kg.
- Nest: In a sheltered spot sometimes quite far from water. Lined with dry grass and down.
- Breeding: 5–12 eggs laid in April, incubated by female for 22–30 days. Ducklings leave the nest soon after hatching and quickly learn to find food for themselves, though they stay near their mother. They learn to fly within about 7–8 weeks.
- Occurrence: Nests throughout Finland. Breeding population estimated at 200,000 pairs.
- Migration: By day or night. Autumn migration October–November, returning March–April. Winters in Western and Central Europe and Southern Scandinavia. Some birds spend the winter in Finland in open waters in towns and cities where they depend on food provided by people.
- Diet: Plants, invertebrates, and during the winter bread, cake, biscuits etc.
- Calls: Males’ courtship call a cheerful “piu”. Female makes characteristic quacking call.
Male Mallards in breeding plumage (from September-October to early summer) are the most familiar of Finland’s ducks. Their breasts are dark purplish brown, a white ring runs round their necks, and their heads are metallic greenish black. They have grey underparts and black colouring around the tail and vent. Their central tail feathers are curled upwards. Their backs are greyish with some cinammon-like coluring. In late summer males moult and grow plumage similar to that of females, but darker, and with black colouring over their tails and yellow bills without the darker patch that marks females’ bills.
Females and juveniles have quite uniform light brown plumage with darker patterning. The best distinguishing feature on birds in all plumages is a bluish violet speculum wing panel edged with a black and white border on each side. Mallards have orangish pink legs. Their beaks are olive green or greenish yellow (adult males), with orangish brown markings on the sides (adult females) or reddish brown (juveniles). Their irises are brown.
The Mallard is Finland’s most common duck, and also the country’s most widely hunted bird, with as many as half a million birds hunted in peak years.