This last page documents eclipse plumage changes which happen each year in the male mallards. They change color and look like females to camoflauge themselves from predators.

Page 5 of 5
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This mallard has coloring most often associated with the bird. (I liked the pattern on its back.)
[Side top-down view of the mallard in the water. Its back has a design where the dark feathers in the center fan out into the lighter colors.]

This mallard's neck is starting to change color.
[Mallard in the water is swimming toward the camera while quacking (mouth open). The neck is speckled brown and grey.]

These boys are in the midst of color change.
[Two mallards stand in the grass one in front of the other. Both are starting to get more grey in their teal heads and their necks have significant brown in them (grey is nearly gone).]

The front part of the body is starting to change as well as the neck and head.
[Side view of a mallard who has his head turned back toward his tail. His head is half grey and half teal. His neck is nearly all brown and the feathers at the front are turning brown and grey.]

All four males changing colors at the same time stop for a snooze.
[Front view of four male mallards standing on one foot in shallow water with their heads tucked back under their wings as they sleep. They are in two rows with two in front and one behind each of them.]

The morphing is nearly complete. Male mallards have yellow bills while females have orange ones which is the means to distinguish between the sexes.
[Side view of a mallard who has only light brown and dark brown feathers in a circular-like fashion. The teal of the head is completely gone although the blue in its wing feathers is visible. Its bill is very yellow.]

The transition is complete. These are two male mallards.
[Side view of a mallard in the water and a partial back view of a malard on the ground. If it wasn't for the yellow bills one would think these were females.]

Mallard on right in eclipse plumage (notice the yellow bill) and one in normal plumage on the left.
[Mallard on the right in eclipse plumage is in profile view while the other in regular plumage a few feet away is showing us his back end.]

I'm thinking perhaps the hormonal changes which result in the male plumage changing to look like a female may have affected this duck. I saw him more than once on this nest. What's even more bizarre is it was a former Canada goose nest.
[Male mallard just starting to morph into eclipse plumage (his head is still teal colored) is standing on the down and leaves of a nest.]

Return to page 1 to watch the ducklings grow.


Continue to the pages to view mallard families stories.


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