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Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

Taxonomic note
Anas platyrhynchos and A. fulvigula (incorporating diazi) (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously treated as A. platyrhynchos (incorporating diazi) and A. fulvigula following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number > c.19,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in China; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.10,000 wintering individuals in Korea and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.10,000 wintering individuals in Japan (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable, fluctuating, increasing, and others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America (99.3% increase over 40 years, equating to a 18.8% increase per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007) In Europe, trends since 1980 have been stable, based on provisional data for 21 countries from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands; P. Vorisek in litt. 2008).

Behaviour In temperate regions breeding populations of this species are sedentary or dispersive, often making local movements during severe weather (Scott and Rose 1996). Other populations are fully migratory (Kear 2005b) with females and juveniles leaving the breeding grounds in the western Palearctic from September and returning as early as February (Kear 2005b). The species breeds between March and June (Madge and Burn 1988) in single pairs or loose groups (del Hoyo et al. 1992) although the exact timing varies with latitude (Madge and Burn 1988). While the females are incubating (Johnsgard 1978) (from mid-May) (Flint et al. 1984, Scott and Rose 1996) the males gather (Madge and Burn 1988) in small flocks and migrate to moulting areas (Flint et al. 1984) where they undergo a flightless moulting period lasting for c.4 weeks (Scott and Rose 1996) (females moult near the breeding grounds) (Flint et al. 1984). Outside of the breeding season the species can be found in small to very large flocks (Madge and Burn 1988) numbering up to several hundreds or even thousands of individuals (Snow and Perrins 1998) especially when moulting (Scott and Rose 1996), on migration (Snow and Perrins 1998) and during the winter (Kear 2005b). The species may also roost both nocturnally and diurnally in communal groups when not breeding (Brown et al. 1982). Habitat The species occurs in almost every wetland type (del Hoyo et al. 1992) although it generally avoids fast-flowing, oligotrophic (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Scott and Rose 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), deep, exposed, rough, rockbound waters and hard unvegetated areas such as rocky ground, sand dunes and artificial surfacing (Snow and Perrins 1998). It requires water less than 1 m deep for foraging (Snow and Perrins 1998) and shows a preference for freshwater habitats (Madge and Burn 1988) although it may frequent shallow brackish waters as long as they provide the cover (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Scott and Rose 1996) of submerged, floating, emergent or riparian vegetation, dense reedbeds or overhanging branches (Snow and Perrins 1998). Habitats commonly frequented include flooded swampy woodlands, seasonal floodlands (Snow and Perrins 1998), wet grassy swamps and meadows, oxbow lakes (Flint et al. 1984), open waters with mudflats, banks or spits, irrigation networks, reservoirs, ornamental waters (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Scott and Rose 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), canals and sewage farms (Snow and Perrins 1998). During the winter the species may also be found in saline habitats along the coast (Madge and Burn 1988) where water is shallow, fairly sheltered and within site of land (Snow and Perrins 1998) (e.g. brackish lagoons [Snow and Perrins 1998], brackish estuaries [del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998] and bays [del Hoyo et al. 1992]). Diet The species is omnivorous and opportunistic (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998), feeding by dabbling in water and by grazing on the land (Snow and Perrins 1998). Its diet consists of seeds and the vegetative parts of aquatic and terrestrial plants (e.g. crops) (del Hoyo et al. 1992), as well as terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates (especially in the spring and summer) such as insects, molluscs, crustaceans, worms and occasionally amphibians and fish (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is a shallow depression (Snow and Perrins 1998) or bowl of vegetation that can be situated in many different locations such as within vegetation on the ground, in natural tree cavities (del Hoyo et al. 1992) up to 10 m high (Africa) (Brown et al. 1982), under fallen dead wood, on tree stumps (Flint et al. 1984), under bushes (Brown et al. 1982) and even in abandoned nests of other species (e.g. herons or crows) (Flint et al. 1984). Nests are generally placed close to water (Kear 2005b) although occasionally they may be some distance away (Madge and Burn 1988). Management information "Extensive" grazing of wetland grasslands (c.0.5 cows per hectare) was found to attract a higher abundance of the species in Hungary (Baldi et al. 2005). Studies in Danish coastal wetlands found that the spatial restriction of shore-based shooting was more successful at maintaining waterfowl population sizes than was the temporal restriction of shooting, and therefore that wildfowl reserves should incorporate shooting-free refuges that include adjacent marshland in order to ensure high waterfowl species diversity (Bregnballe et al. 2004). The cyclical removal of adult fish from an artificial waterbody (gravel pit) in the UK resulted in an increase in invertebrate food availability and an increase in the growth of submerged aquatic macrophytes, which in turn led to an increased use of the habitat for brood rearing by the species (Giles 1994). The removed fish (dead or alive) were sold to generate funds (Giles 1994). The species will also nest in artificial nest boxes (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992).

The species is threatened by wetland habitat degradation and loss from pollution (e.g. petroleum [Grishanov 2006] and pesticide pollution [Kwon et al. 2004]), wetland drainage, peat-extraction, changing wetland management practices (e.g. decreased grazing and mowing in meadows leading to scrub over-growth) and the burning and mowing of reedbeds (Grishanov 2006). The species also suffers mortality as a result of lead shot ingestion (e.g. in Spain [Mateo et al. 1999] and France [Mondain-Monval et al. 2002]) and poisoning from white phosphorous ingestion (from firearms) in Alaska (Steele 1997). It is also susceptible to duck virus enteritis (DVE) (Friend 2006), avian influenza (Melville and Shortridge 2006) and avian botulism (Rocke 2006) so may be threatened by future outbreaks of these diseases (although it may be able to withstand sporadic losses due to its high reproductive potential) (Rocke 2006). The species is predated by American mink Neovison vison in Europe (Opermanis et al. 2001). Utilisation The species is hunted throughout the world (Kear 2005b) mainly for sport (Evans and Day 2002, Bregnballe et al. 2006, Mondain-Monval et al. 2006, Sorrenti et al. 2006), but also for commercial use (food) (Balmaki and Barati 2006). The eggs of this species were (and possibly still are) harvested in Iceland (Gudmundsson 1979).

Baldi, A., Batary, B. and Erdos, S. 2005. Effects of grazing intensity on bird assemblages and populations of Hungarian grasslands. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 108: 251-263.

Balmaki, B.; Barati, A. 2006. Harvesting status of migratory waterfowl in northern Iran: a case study from Gilan Province. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 868-869. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Bregnballe, T., Noer, H., Christensen, T.K., Clausen, P., Asferg, T., Fox, A.D. and Delany, S. 2006. Sustainable hunting of migratory waterbirds: the Danish approach. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith, and D. Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 854-860. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Bregnballe, T.; Madsen, J., Rasmussen, P. A. F. 2004. Effects of temporal and spatial hunting control in waterbird reserves. Biological Conservation 119: 93-104.

Brown, L.H., Urban, E.K. and Newman, K. 1982. The Birds of Africa, Volume I. Academic Press, London.

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Evans, D.M. and Day, K.R. 2002. Hunting disturbance on a large shallow lake: the effectiveness of waterfowl refuges. Ibis 144(1): 2-8.

Flint, V.E., Boehme, R.L., Kostin, Y.V. and Kuznetsov, A.A. 1984. A field guide to birds of the USSR. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Friend, M. 2006. Evolving changes in diseases of waterbirds. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith and D. Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 412-417. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, U.K.

Giles, N. 1994. Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) habitat use and brood survival increases after fish removal from gravel pit lakes. Hydrobiologia 279/280: 387-392.

Grishanov, D. 2006. Conservation problems of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds and their habitats in the Kaliningrad region of Russia. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith and D Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 356. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, U.K.

Gudmundsson, F. 1979. The past status and exploitation of the Myvatn waterfowl populations. Oikos 32(1-2): 232-249.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Johnsgard, P.A. 1978. Ducks, geese and swans of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London.

Kear, J. 2005. Ducks, geese and swans volume 2: species accounts (Cairina to Mergus). Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Kwon, Y.K., Wee, S.H. and Kim, J.H. 2004. Pesticide Poisoning Events in Wild Birds in Korea from 1998 to 2002. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 40(4): 737-740.

Madge, S. and Burn, H. 1988. Wildfowl. Christopher Helm, London.

Mateo, R., Belliure, J., Dolz, J.C., Aguilar-Serrano, J.M. and Guitart, R. 1998. High prevalences of lead poisoning in wintering waterfowl in Spain. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 35: 342-347.

Melville, D. S.; Shortridge, K. F. 2006. Migratory waterbirds and avian influenza in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with particular reference to the 2003-2004 H5N1 outbreak. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 432-438. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Mondain-Monval, J.Y., Defos du Rau, P., Mathon, N., Olivier, A. and Desnouhes, L. 2006. The monitoring of hunting bags and hunting effort in the Camargue, France. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith and D. Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 862-863. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, U.K.

Mondain-Monval, J.Y., Desnouhes, L. and Taris, J.P. 2002. Lead shot ingestion in waterbirds in the Camargue, (France). Game and Wildlife Science 19(3): 237-246.

Opermanis, O., Mednis, A. and Bauga, I. 2001. Duck nests and predators: interaction, specialisation and possible management. Wildlife Biology 7(2): 87-96.

Rocke, T. E. 2006. The global importance of avian botulism. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 422-426. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Scott, D. A.; Rose, P. M. 1996. Atlas of Anatidae populations in Africa and western Eurasia. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Sokolov, L. V.; Gordienko, N. S. 2008. Has recent climate warming affected the dates of bird arrival to the Il'men Reserve in the Southern Urals? Russian Journal of Ecology 39: 56-62.

Sorrenti, M., Carnacina, L., Radice, D. and Costato, A. 2006. Duck harvest in the Po delta, Italy. In: G. Boere, C. Galbraith and D. Stroud (eds), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 864-865. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, U.K.

Steele, B.B., Reitsma, L.R., Racine, C.H., Burson, S.L. III., Stuart, R. and Theberge, R. 1997. Different susceptibilities to white phosphorous poisoning among five species of ducks. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 16(11): 2275-2282.

Vahatalo, A. V.; Rainio, K.; Lehikoinen, A.; Lehikoinen, E. 2004. Spring arrival of birds depends on the North Atlantic Oscillation. Journal of Avian Biology 35: 210-216.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Anas platyrhynchos. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, Swans)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1758
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 22,500,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment