Phto Essay: The Mallard

From now on, when you see a blue flag in the summer sky, it very likely is an Israeli mallard

Mallards in Israel (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
Mallards in Israel
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
The mallard is one of the most common ducks in the world. It can be found on every continent – Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa. This duck was introduced into Australia and New Zealand, thriving also in the faraway south.
To provide a bit of perspective regarding its numbers, the mallard population when compared to the human one is about the size of one medium country. While the number of humans on earth has passed the seven billion mark, there are around 30 million mallards.
The male mallard, known as a drake, is much more colorful then the female, as is the case in almost every bird species. The drake has a metallic green neck and head with a big yellow beak. These attributes make it very easy to recognize the species.
While in flight, both male and female show a brilliant blue feather flag. In this case, the telltale sign enables the duck to recognize its own.
The female mallard is brown with dark shades and is camouflaged for survival. This is a must for the time when she sits on the eggs and remains still to blend into the surroundings and avoid the predators that may be after her eggs or young.
In Israel, to see the birds in their natural habitat, you will want to be close to the water, near the Mediterranean Sea, near Zichron Ya’acov, north of Haifa and in reservoirs in the Judean lowlands – the Shfela.
This duck generally avoids man when in the wild. Due to its large numbers, many countries allow the hunting of mallards, so in turn the birds became cautious and fly away immediately. However, mallards are also very adjustable and can live in urban places and even in big cities, such as in Tel Aviv along the Yarkon River.
This species regularly gathers in Israel in the winter, with around 20,000 migrating birds spending their winter here. This is in addition to a small population of mallards that call Israel home all year round and even nest in northern and central water habitats.
From now on, when you see a blue flag in the summer sky, it very likely is an Israeli mallard