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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Mallard

Hebrides bird sightings - Mallard
Adult male


(Stock Duck, Stockie, Stocker, Wild Duck)

Anas platyrhynchos

Gaelic: Tunnag-fhiadhaich, Lach

Photograph © Suzanne Harris
Carloway - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
11th November, 2006

"A new camera and looking for something to test it on saw this very large and handsome drake on a moorland loch near the road. I had barely got my camera out when a truck pulled up nearby - a local got out looking very worried - it turned out that he had hand-reared these Mallards and was very fond of them. Once he realised I was admiring them all was well. They were grain fed and looked in superb condition."


Our Mallard photographs


Female and juvenile

Synchronised swimming!


  • Mallard (Stock Duck, Stockie, Stocker, Wild Duck)
  • Anas platyrhynchos
  • Gaelic: Tunnag-fhiadhaich, Lach
  • UK: Introduced/Resident Breeder, Winter Visitor
  • UK: Breeding 50,400-127,100 pairs. Wintering 371,000 individuals RSPB
  • WI: Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs), and winter visitor (occurs in small numbers)
  • Breeding: Usually nest on river bank (not always near water) 1 brood 11-14 eggs laid. Mallards pair until eggs laid then male leaves. Mallard ducklings can swim and feed themselves (insects) as soon as they hatch. Female stays & protects them. Europe, N America, Asia, New Zealand, Australia (much domesticated)
  • Winters: Strongly migratory in northernmost parts - winters farther south of the breeding range. Mallards seen in winter in the UK may be resident breeders or migrants - many birds that breed in Iceland & N Europe winter here. Very gregarious out of breeding season & often forms large flocks (called sords)
  • Habitat: Wet places including urban area: Wetlands, parks, small ponds, rivers, lakes
  • Diet: Omnivorous, opportunist. Feeds mostly by dabbling in shallow water for plant material & insects. Also grazing. Seeds, berries, plants, acorns, insects, shellfish, frogs
  • Large, heavy-looking duck. Long body. Long, broad bill. Adult breeding male dark green head. Black rear-end. Yellow black-tipped bill. Breast mainly purple-brown. Body grey . Non-breeding male drab, & like female, ID it by yellow bill & reddish breast. Female mainly brown. Orange bill. Both sexes have purple (white-edged) wing patch (speculum).
  • Listen to a Mallard (RSPB site)
  • Typical lifespan 3yrs. Max recorded lifespan 23yrs 2mths
  • Similar birds: Gadwall (Rare), Pintail (rare) Teal (fairly rare) Green-winged Teal (rare)



Mallard records in the Western Isles

Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs), and winter visitor (occurs in small numbers).
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)


On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Mallard is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)




Male or female ducks and their collective nouns

The Mallard is very gregarious out of the breeding season and often forms large flocks, called sords.

Some people use the word duck only for an adult female and drake for an adult male whilst others say hen and drake.

Waterfowl collective nouns (From WIKI):
waterfowl (on water) A raft
waterfowl A bunch of waterfowl
waterfowl (less than 30) A knob
ducks, swimming A paddling of ducks
waterfowl A plump
ducks, idle in water A raft of ducks
ducks, diving A dopping of ducks
ducks, on ground A badelynge of ducks
ducks, flying A flight, plump, or team of ducks
ducks A brace, bunch, flock, skein, sord, string, brace, flush


Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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