Mallards are among the least appreciated, but at the same time most fascinating and abundant bird species in the Netherlands (and large parts of the Northern Hemisphere). Mallards play a central role in most of my research and this page is fully devoted to this species.
Local movements and migration
Mallards are partial migrants, which means that part of the population migrates annually, while another part remains sedentary throughout the year. At the local scale, Mallards present the most peculiar movement patterns as described in this PhD thesis. They are creatures of habit, repeatedly visiting the same sites in the landscape and timing their flights according to sunrise and sunset. Much is still unknown about the causes and consequences of these distinctive movement patterns.
In autumn and winter, the Dutch resident population of Mallards is complemented by a large migratory population originating from Fenno-Scandinavia and Western-Russia. A colour-ringing project carried out in the winter of 2012/2013 revealed the extent of the Mallard flyway. Explore it yourself using this interactive map of Mallard resightings!
Seed dispersal: Mallards are increasingly recognized as important players in the dispersal of plant seeds across the landscape.
Avian Influenza: Mallards are among the best known natural reservoirs for Avian Influenza Virusses and is thought to play a role in the virus transmission to poultry.
Population size and conservation
With an estimated global population size of 19 million individuals, the mallard is the word's most abundant duck species with a range covering most of the Northern Hemisphere. The Dutch breeding population is approximately 400.000 individuals according to SOVON. Despite its abundance, the Dutch population has been facing moderate declines since the 1990's. The reason for this decline is still a mystery. In 2016, we started a citizen science project to get a grip on the reproductive success of mallards in the Netherlands, since low brood survival may be one of the factors contributing to the decrease.
Helping nesting mallads: click here for an impression of our new duck nest tube project!
Publications in the Dutch Mallard Project
- Kleyheeg E., Van Dijk J.G.B., Nolet B.A., Tsopoglou-Gkina D., Woud T., Boonstra D., Soons M.B. (2017) Daily movement distances and home range sizes of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) are strongly affected by landscape configuration. Movement Ecology, in press.
- Kleyheeg E. (2013) Beschadigde eendenpoten door aluminium ring. Op Het Vinkentouw, 127:16 (pdf)