Mention ducks and many people think of the mallard. Its ability to tolerate human disturbance and adapt to urban as well as rural habitats make it the Northern Hemisphere's most abundant and widespread waterfowl.
Features: During the fall, winter and spring months, males can be quickly identified by their distinctive iridescent green heads. Females are mottled-brown, with a dark brown stripe through each eye, an orange bill with black splotching and have orange legs. Immature ducks resemble adult females until the males develop more colorful plumage in early fall. After breeding season, males develop duller eclipse plumage beginning in June and resemble hens until mid-September. Wings of both sexes have a violet-blue speculum bordered in front and behind by a pronounced white stripe.
Habitat: Mallards are the most common breeding and wintering duck in Oregon, and are widespread throughout the state. They are a puddle or dabbling duck and usually feed by dabbling or dipping rather than submerging. Throughout Oregon, both migrant and resident birds can be found in coastal and inland marshes, lakes and ponds, rivers and agricultural fields.
Techniques: Because of their abundance, mallards are the most commonly harvested duck in Oregon. Hunting techniques often depend on the habitat. In still water ponds, marshes, and along the shore of larger rivers, many hunters set out decoys and call ducks into the decoy spread. In the riparian areas along small rivers and streams, jump shooting can be effective. In the Columbia Basin and eastern Oregon, some mallards are hunted over decoy spreads in cut cornfields. Mallards are noted as excellent table fare.