Molting of Ducks
For the past 6 years I have lived on a lake in
Jacksonville, Fl., where I've been feeding a number of wild Mallard
ducks. I raised one
female from day of hatching and have interacted with her and her siblings
for the past 3 years.
This past year, (2004-05), I have witnessed
many of the males, (drakes), visually changing
into females. What is happening?
Mallard drakes and some other species molt to a drab "eclipse" plumage in
the summer, then molt back again to breeding plumage in fall. During molt
they may be unable to fly for a few weeks and stay mostly out of sight.
Mallard drakes assume the camouflage plumage that is common found with the
females during the time they are unable to fly for protective reasons.
Predators would be able to find them easily at the time they are most
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Update: June 2012