- Ducks are considered waterfowl, along with swans and geese. San Diego typically has species of dabbling and diving ducks. A dabbling duck does not submerge fully underwater the way the diving species do.
- The most common species in North America and San Diego is the Mallard.
- Mallards are the largest of the dabbling ducks.
- Mallards fly in a V-formation in order to have the lead bird break the headwinds and lower the resistance for the others.
- Females make the common “quack” sound. Males make a sound that is hoarse.
- Females lay their nests near a body of water and lay up to 13 eggs. She will incubate them for a month during which time it is illegal to disturb her nest.
- Mallards breed from late April to July.
- Mallards often breed with domestic ducks that have been dumped out in the wild. The combination produces a body type that can make it difficult for the hybrid species to fly off with the other migrating ducks at the end of summer.
- A mallard’s diet consists of aquatic vegetation, insects, worms, and grain crops like wheat and corn. Dabbling ducks, dip their head underwater to forage for plants on the bottom.
- Flocks often feed in early morning and late afternoon in nearby harvested fields, returning to marshes and creeks to spend the night.
Tips to Discourage
- Issues arise when flocks of birds take over a body of water. Mallards that have successfully raised young in an area are likely to return to that area the following year. Additionally, the presence of ducks on a body of water attracts more ducks to the area. When it comes to dealing with mallards, preventing them from using an area is much easier than discouraging them from using a site once they are established.
- Do not feed ducks or geese. Artificial feeding attracts more birds than would naturally be found at a site.
- Keep areas under bird feeders clean to discourage them from feeding on waste seed that drops.
- A short fence about two to three feet high around an area such as a swimming pool or deck can help to deter ducks from walking into those areas.
- Ducks can be discouraged from using a swimming pool by covering the surface area of the pool, when not in use, with a cover or floatable objects such as pool toys, rafts, or balls. The action of floatable objects in the wind scares and discourages ducks. Use as many floatable objects as you can to cover the surface.
- If ducklings jump in a pool and can’t get out, a regular pool raft half way in the water from the edge will make a ramp for them to climb out.
- Mallard ducks, like all waterfowl, are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is illegal to kill or remove ducks or to destroy their nests or eggs. Once a mother lays eggs or has ducklings, she must be left alone until her ducklings can fly.