Reproduction: How did they get here?

Duckling photo courtesy of Terry Sohl
The Mallard will chose its mate in the fall before they migrate to warmer climates. Breeding does not take place until they migrate back from their winter dwelling.

The Mallard reproduces sexually, and will usually lay anywhere from 8 to 14 eggs in one season. The use of the amniotic egg is a very important
adaptation for the survival of this terrestrial animal. The eggs do not require the use of water or any other nutrients (besides heat) until they hatch. The gestation period is about 30 days for Mallards. The newly hatched ducklings can swim almost immediately, but cannot fly for around 60 days.

The Mallard has also been know to breed with other species that are closely related to it, and can actually produce viable offspring. This has led to numerous hybrids within the anas genus.

The nest is often no more than just a small hollow in the ground, lined with reeds, weeds, and some of the down from the female's breast. However, Mallard nests have been found as high as twenty-five feet off the ground in heavily wooded areas. The nesting area is often chosen based on available cover and safety from predators, and its accessibility to water so the female can lead her ducklings to it easily after hatching.  

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