Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
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If the mallard wasn't so common, we would probably see it as one of our more handsome of ducks. The drake, as shown in the photograph, is resplendent in breeding colors.
But have you wondered where all of the drakes go during mid-summer? They actually are still around, but have molted into an eclipse plumage, which looks very much like the female's plumage. By fall, they have molted back into their non-eclipse plummage.
These ducks feed almost exclusively on plant matter, but at times they will also eat aquatic vertebrates. They are often seen "tipping up," in the manner of all puddle ducks, with their tails in the air and their bills scouring the bottoms of shallow ponds looking for food. They may also root through fallen leaves on the edges of forests looking for seeds and other foods.
Females select upland nesting sites, often in suburban landscaping. The male does not help with incubation and he guards the female only until she begins to incubate (mostly to prevent other males from mating with her). Once incubation begins, the drake leaves the female for the life of a bachelor.