Mallards in New Zealand were derived from both European and American stock. In New Zealand they interbreed with Grey ducks, Anas superciliosa, and hybrids are common.
Birds of British game-farm stock were first introduced to New Zealand from Australia in 1867. Acclimatisation Societies made many liberations up to about 1918 but were not particularly successful until they were intensively bred from American stock and liberated in the 1930s and 1940s. Mallards have now become the most numerous of all water birds and are widely distributed from town ponds to outlying islands. The population has been as high as perhaps 5,000,000 but have declined in recent years due to farm runoff and avian botulism, something which has put the New Zealand Fish and Game Council at loggerheads with farmers.
The birds are legally harvested in May during the duck shooting season, with the take controlled by daily bag limits for licensed hunters.
Other common names: —
Greenhead, Anas boschas.
58 cm., males 1300 g., females 1100 g., orange legs and feet, blue speculum bordered with thin black black and white bands; male dark gloosy green head, chestnut breast, grey body, black rump and undertail, bill yellow-green; female brown and buff.
Where to find: —
Widespread and common.
The wild duck startles like a sudden thought,
And heron slow as if it might be caught.
The flopping crows on weary wings go by
And grey beard jackdaws noising as they fly.
The crowds of starnels whizz and hurry by,
And darken like a clod the evening sky.
The larks like thunder rise and suthy round,
Then drop and nestle in the stubble ground.
The wild swan hurries hight and noises loud
With white neck peering to the evening clowd.
The weary rooks to distant woods are gone.
With lengths of tail the magpie winnows on
To neighbouring tree, and leaves the distant crow
While small birds nestle in the edge below.
— John Clare
Illustration description: —
Dresser, H. E., Birds of Europe, 1871–1896.
Albin, Eleazar, Natural History of Birds, 1731–38.
Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.
Oliver, W.R.B. New Zealand Birds, 1955.
Page date & version: —
Wednesday, 28 May 2014; ver2009v1