Sunday’s Duck o’ the Week

It’s Sunday, which means that evolutionary geneticist John Avise gives us our weekly lesson on the ducks of North America. Your job is to look at the photos and guess the species. After guessing, click below to go beneath the fold.  This week’s duck should be dead easy, and John provides a hint.

Hint:  Dorothy, Honey, Wingman, and their many offspring and compatriots on Botany Pond are members of this week’s beautiful duck species.  [If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re not a regular reader of WEIT.]

Hen standing:

Hen swimming:

Hen in flight:

Hen portrait:

Hen with ducklings:

Drake standing:

Drake swimming:


Click “read more” to see the ID, John’s duck facts, and a range map.

ID: Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

In terms of abundance and distribution, this sexually dimorphic dabbling species is undoubtedly the world’s most successful duck.  Wild Mallards breed across much of North America and Eurasia and have been widely introduced into many other sites around the globe. Mallards also have been domesticated and artificially selected into a wide variety of forms (see next week’s post) that can be observed in barnyards and parks worldwide. Jerry Coyne’s exploits with his beloved Mallards on Botany Pond will have given readers deep insights into the daily and seasonal trials and tribulations of Mallard life.  Next Sunday’s Duck O’ the Week posting will highlight some of the domestic breeds of Mallards, with which wild Mallards are fully interfertile and often hybridize.

A range map from the Cornell site. Mallards are everywhere!


  1. jezgrove
    Posted September 20, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Finally a duck I can identify with confidence, rather than a wild (duck) guess!

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 20, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    If ever a mic drop was appropriate,…

  3. rickflick
    Posted September 20, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    The Mallard is the iconic duck. What more could you ask of a species of surviving dinosaurs?

  4. Posted September 20, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Range: They’re everywhere.

  5. Posted September 20, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Another stippled hen bill. I wonder if the pattern is unique to the individual, like our fingerprints.

  6. Posted September 21, 2020 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    I like that green headed guy.
    More green headed guys please professor.

    D.A., NYC

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