Mallard drake changes - help

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Karen09, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. Karen09

    Karen09 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 27, 2009
    Wyoming, New York
    I bought a "Mallard Pair". I posted pictures of them and the female really wasn't but the male was either a Mallard or a Rouen. My husband really wanted Mallards so we bought some "Mallards" at the local feed store in April. The female disappeared, we figured she was laying eggs and hatching them but she never came back. The male stayed close and would go in the coop. Once the younger ducks were old enough, we put them in the coop with the male. He took over as their leader and they followed him everywhere. About 1 month ago, he lost his curl tail feathers and now he is changing colors. His head is no longer green but more of a light brown and his feathers are looking more the colors of a female Mallard. The younger ducks are 15 weeks old and one of them has the colors of a drake while the other 3 have the colors of female.

    Is this normal for a drake to change his colors and loose his curled tail feather? Is he taking on the role of the "mom" duck? Will he go back to being a drake once the females are older? Will the 2 males share the females or fight over them?

    We are new to ducks and I have never read anything like this. I know that a dominant hen will stop laying eggs, possibly crow and grow spurs if there isn't a rooster in the flock. Would a drake do the same without a female to raise the ducklings?
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    He will molt into his drake plumage again this autumn. If any of your young ducks are drakes, they will also molt into their Drake colors this fall. You will first notice it as a greening of their heads.
     
  3. AdamD77

    AdamD77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 1, 2010
    Bedfordshire, England
    It's completely normal and fine [​IMG] My mallard-coloured male Runner has lost his male plumage and has gone all female looking and has regrown his drake feathers, and I think yours should too. My other male's tail feathers seem to be taking a lot longer to come back through than the other but I can see a bit of the curl. He is black and has lost his greenness and is plain black. Like sourland said, he should moult back to male plumage in the Autumn [​IMG]
     
  4. Karen09

    Karen09 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 27, 2009
    Wyoming, New York
    Thank you very much for your answers! You have been very helpful. When will the females start laying eggs?
     
  5. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Probably not until next spring. They are not prolific egg layers like other breeds that have been selected for that trait. They will most likely lay a clutch and then go broody. By removing the eggs you can encourage them to lay more, but there is a limit to what they will lay.
     
  6. Patrick311

    Patrick311 New Egg

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    Nov 9, 2015
    Five year late, but...

    I'm not an expert on ducks or chickens or any other kind of poultry, for that matter, but here's what I've learned in the last couple of months. Mallards do molt and take on a more female appearance after they have mated and the ducklings have grown. It is timed out to the winter weather, not the age of the ducklings; it just seems to work out that way. I'm in Oklahoma, so they've usually migrated before that happens. The male is still distinguishable, as its head is still mostly green, but the rest of him will be almost identical to a female mallard.

    As far as I know, they don't fight over females; they just pair up... probably based on appearance. We have seven or eight each year that migrate to the university's fountain / pond each year. There are always extra males. After a few weeks, there are fewer of each, and eventually just a couple of males remain. As the weather starts to turn, usually at the end of summer, they all disappear. The few times I've actually seen ducklings, however, there are fewer and fewer of them as they grow up, presumably the result of predation by feral cats in the area.

    This year we have a hybrid male. It is apparently a cross between a mallard and a domestic white duck. It had the slightly greenish (maybe as much brown as green) head and some of the wing stripes, but other than that it was completely white. It is also a little larger than the mallards. It migrated in with them, but didn't leave when the group did. I had no idea that ducks changed colors with the seasons. I was surprised to see the dramatic difference as the little guy shed his white feathers for brown. Since he didn't migrate, he may be in for a rough winter; I sure hope he survives.
     

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