Domestic Mallards Anas platyrhynchos var. domesticus

An incredibly large proportion of requests for help with identification from non-birders or novice birders relate to domestic ducks or domestic geese. That's because they don't appear in most bird books and they often look nothing like their wild ancestors.

Most domestic ducks derive from Mallard Anas platyrhynchos. Strictly, the term domestic implies that they are kept by someone but when most people talk about domestic ducks they include birds that are living in the wild but descended from domestic stock - a more accurate term might be "domestic variant of Mallard" as this does not imply that they are still associating with humans. Those who breed and keep Mallards have a number of names for the various breeds (e.g. Aylesbury, Indian Runner, etc.) which have been produced through selective breeding, but essentially they are all the same species: Mallard. Many are released or escape into the wild where they continue breeding with each other and with wild Mallards. With less control over their breeding in the wild, the appearance of domestic Mallards in the wild becomes even more variable. Unfortunately so many are breeding in the wild that you'll struggle to find pure wild-type Mallards in some areas. Most Mallards on village ponds for example usually derive from domestic stock.

Apart from Mallards, the only other species of duck that has been truly domesticated is the Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata. Domestic variants of Muscovy Ducks are becoming increasingly common in the UK and there are now many pairs breeding in the wild.

In addition, whilst this doesn't truly represent domestication, breeders often favour the leucistic or other mutant forms of a number of other species - these include White-cheeked Pintails, Red-crested Pochards, Mandarins and Wood Ducks.

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domestic Mallard, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 10th November 2007

 

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domestic Mallards, Wroxham Broad (Norfolk, UK), 5th February 2011

 

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domestic Mallards, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 10th November 2007

 

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domestic Mallards (and Moorhen), Polgigga (Cornwall, UK), 18th November 2013

 

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domestic Mallards, Wroxham Broad (Norfolk, UK), 30th January 2010

 

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domestic Mallards, Helston Boating Lake (Cornwall, UK), 21st November 2013

 

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domestic Mallard, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 27th January 2008

 

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domestic Mallard, Minsmere (Suffolk, UK), 20th September 2004

 

domestic Mallard, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 21st December 2006

 

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domestic Mallards, Porthloo Duckpond, St Mary's (Scilly, UK), 6th August 2010 - at the time I'd not appreciated that domestic Mallards could have such pink bills but apparently this is normal for the Aylesbury breed - thanks to those of you who helped with these

 

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domestic Mallard, Cleethorpes (Norfolk, UK), 7th April 2012

 

domestic Mallard, Graffham Water (Cambridgeshire, UK), 24th September 2011

 

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domestic Mallard, Cleethorpes (Norfolk, UK), 7th April 2012

 

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domestic Mallards, Graffham Water (Cambridgeshire, UK), 24th September 2011

 

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domestic Mallard, Felbrigg Lake (Norfolk, UK), 24th July 2010

 

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domestic Mallards, Snettisham (Norfolk, UK), 8th December 2012

 

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domestic Mallard, Snettisham (Norfolk, UK), 8th December 2012 - I think this one may be an intersex female, i.e. a female developing male characteristics, given the green on the head in combination with a female-type bill

 

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domestic Mallard, Snettisham (Norfolk, UK), 8th December 2012

 

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domestic Mallards, Porthloo, St Mary's (Scilly, UK), 11th August 2012

 

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domestic Mallard, Felbrigg Lake (Norfolk, UK), 24th July 2010

 

domestic Mallard, Cockshoot Broad (Norfolk, UK), 12th November 2011

 

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domestic Mallard, Welney (Norfolk, UK), 9th April 2011

 

domestic Mallard, Salhouse Broad (Norfolk, UK), 24th December 2011

 

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domestic Mallard, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 12th March 2011

 

domestic Mallard, Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway, UK), 29th December 2011

 

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domestic Mallards, Pensthorpe (Norfolk, UK), 9th March 2014 - the bird on the left was in the nature reserve but the bird on the right was inside an enclosure with captive birds; I'm not sure if it's a male showing remnants of juvenile plumage or an advanced intersex female

 

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domestic Mallards, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 16th February 2008

 

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domestic Mallards, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 30th April 2011

 

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domestic Mallards, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 12th March 2011

 

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domestic Mallards, Cockshoot Broad (Norfolk, UK), 5th February 2011

 

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domestic Mallard, Rollesby Broad (Norfolk, UK), 17th December 2011

 

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domestic Mallard, Anmer (Norfolk, UK), 25th January 2013

 

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domestic Mallards, Flitcham (Norfolk, UK), 19th March 2009

 

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domestic Mallards, Whitlingham CP (Norfolk, UK), 1st July 2011

 

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domestic Mallard, Whitlingham CP (Norfolk, UK), 1st July 2011

 

domestic Mallard, Snettisham (Norfolk, UK), 8th December 2012

 

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domestic Mallards, Whitlingham CP (Norfolk, UK), 19th June 2011

 

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domestic Mallards, Snettisham (Norfolk, UK), 31st March 2009

 

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domestic Mallard, Coxford (Norfolk, UK), 8th April 2009

 

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domestic Mallards, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 10th November 2007

 

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domestic Mallards, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 27th September 2007

 

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domestic Mallard, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 10th January 2008

 

domestic Mallard, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 21st May 2004

 

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domestic Mallard, Flixton GP (Suffolk, UK), 27th August 2005

 

domestic Mallard, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 28th February 2004

 

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domestic Mallards, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 6th February 2007

 

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domestic Mallard, Burnham Norton (Norfolk, UK), 29th April 2011

 

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domestic Mallards, Holkham, Park (Norfolk, UK), 4th February 2012

 

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captive domestic Mallards, Blakeney Collection (Norfolk, UK), 12th March 2011

 

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domestic Mallards, West Somerton (Norfolk, UK), 26th December 2009

 

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domestic Mallard, West Somerton (Norfolk, UK), 26th December 2009

 

domestic Mallard, Whitlingham CP (Norfolk, UK), 7th February 2010

 

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domestic Mallards, Chew Valley Lake (Avon, UK), 1st October 2011

 

domestic Mallards, Horsey (Norfolk, UK), 17th December 2011

 

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captive domestic Mallard, Martin Mere (Lancashire, UK), 28th December 2003

 

domestic Mallard duckling, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 21st May 2004

 

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domestic Mallards, Lake Lothing, Lowestoft (Suffolk, UK), 11th February 2012

 

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domestic Mallards, Broome GPs (Norfolk, UK), 11th February 2012

 

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domestic Mallard, Flitcham (Norfolk, UK), 17th March 2004

 

domestic Mallard, Wroxham Broad (Norfolk, UK), 30th January 2010

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domestic Mallard, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 21st May 2007

 

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domestic Mallard, Bittering (Norfolk, UK), 20th April 2014

 

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domestic Mallards, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 28th June 2007

 

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domestic Mallards, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 25th July 2007

 

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domestic Mallard, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 2nd July 2007

 

domestic Mallard, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 28th June 2007

 

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domestic Mallards, Porthloo Duckpond, St Mary's (Scilly, UK), 3rd October 2007

 

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domestic Mallards, Porthloo Duckpond, St Mary's (Scilly, UK), 5th October 2007

 

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domestic Mallards, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 12th June 2008

 

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domestic Mallard, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 27th December 2008

 

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domestic Mallards, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 22nd October 2007

 

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domestic Mallard, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 14th October 2007

 

domestic Mallard, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 17th November 2007

 

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domestic Mallard, Wroxham Broad (Norfolk, UK), 17th April 2004 (this one is nearly normal but apears to have some domestic ancestry)

 

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domestic Mallard, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 16th February 2008

 

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domestic Mallard, Bittering GP (Norfolk, UK), 8th October 2004

 

domestic Mallard, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 8th March 2008

 

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domestic Mallard, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 26th April 2008

 

domestic Mallard, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 29th March 2008

 

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domestic Mallard, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 7th December 2008

 

domestic Mallard, South Creake (Norfolk, UK), 21st May 2007