Mating Mallards
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by Craig Kimble

While walking my dog one spring evening just before sunset, a sound caught my attention. Upon investigation I found two Mallard drakes trying to mate with a single hen. The three ducks would flit up into the air only to land a moment later at the place they began. The drakes grunted a gravely quack like I most always hear but the hens' sound was almost a gargle, completely different than her normal quack. For a reason I could not detect, one drake won out and mated with the hen. This was done in the grass with the drake positioned on the hens back shaking its tail feathers for a few seconds while the hen walked in a forward motion. The whole of this affair took less than three minutes. I have read that mating usually takes place on the water and that ducks normally pair up in the fall so what I witnessed may have been abnormal behavior.  I must also add that my dog Molly and I were standing no more than 30 feet from this event and the ducks seemed unconcerned.

UPDATE: After doing a little more research, though I couldn't find much, I have found that Mallards are known to participate in what is called "Forced Mating". Apparently one or more drakes force themselves on a hen, sometimes violently. The sound that I heard from the hen could be one of distress although the written description of the "Inciting call" is similar to what I heard. Often the hen is already Incubating eggs.