My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Proper mallard mating etiquette

No blog can be complete without at least a mention of etiquette or of dating, relationships, and of that three-letter word that was never spoken in polite company back in the day, you know, the one that begins with an “S” and ends with “X”. Hmmm, that’s how all my relationships have ended, with an ex. Anyway, some of the photos I took the other day have made me think that I should do a post for all the mallards out there who may not know the proper etiquette as far as mallard mating rituals.

I was standing near of the ponds here, watching some ring-necked ducks, hoping that they would come closer to me so I could get some better photos than I did, and of course there were a few mallards hanging around as well. I had been standing there for a while, when a female mallard flew by, made a circle around the pond, then landed a short distance from the others. She began bobbing her head up and down, and quacking softly, as she began swimming away from the others. She hadn’t gotten very far before a male mallard left the flock as well, following the female, and bobbing his head as he quacked softly. I was going to shoot some photos of that, but as I began to press the shutter release, I thought to myself, this is still photography dummy, no one who sees the photos will be able to tell that the mallards are bobbing their heads, still, I should have shot at least a couple of pics.

The mallards swam off to a quiet, secluded part of the pond, and I’m sure you can guess what happened next, that’s right, they “did the deed”.

Mallards mating

Not wanting to become known as a purveyor of fine duck porn, that’s the only photo of that type I am posting, for it’s what happens after that is really interesting.

The dismount

Then, the drake begins his “victory lap”

Male mallard's victory lap

Male mallard's victory lap

Male mallard's victory lap

For all you hens out there, don’t be too hard on the poor drake for celebrating, he has just completed the only thing that he was born to do, produce more mallards. Other than that, like the males of most species, he is entirely worthless.

The hen in this story must have been around the block a few times, and knows how fragile the poor drake’s ego is, for she did something really nice for him, after tidying herself up a little.

Victory lap

She stood up and applauded his performance!

applauding his performance

applauding his performance

Kind of gives new meaning to the expression “Standing O” doesn’t it?

The drake must have needed an ego boost, for he looked for all the world like Bud Bundy Duck telling all the world that he had finally gotten him some.

Male mallard celebrating

Bad move, remember the old adage that you shouldn’t kiss and tell? There’s a reason for that, and why you shouldn’t go around announcing to the world what great sex you just had.

Goes to show you how dumb the males of most species are, another male saw the first one’s celebration dance, decided that the hen must be an easy one, so he flew on over…

Male mallard in flight

thinking he was going to get some as well…


Male mallard coming in for....

…and that he wasn’t going to bother with all that head bobbing and other mating rituals nonsense…

Male mallard rejected

Drakes, drakes, drakes, do you see where this guy went wrong? If you want to mate, you have to play the game by their rules! The hens need the mating rituals to get ready for the act, even if you drakes don’t. Yelling Geronimo as you dive bomb a hen is not going to work! The head bobbing and stuff only takes a few minutes, surely you can play along for that long, even if mating is the only reason you exist.

So what have we learned here. Hens, it’s a nice gesture to make the drake think that he’s really great, even if he wasn’t. And drakes, oh why bother, you guys never learn anyway.

And just for the record, I’m a male, but still, I can’t help but laugh at the inept attempts by other males when it comes to this subject.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!


16 responses

  1. Sage advice. Too bad they won’t listen!

    March 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    • Sorry for taking so long to reply, it’s been a busy week. Thanks.

      March 9, 2012 at 9:49 am

  2. Mushrooms and lichens are so much less complicated! Sort of.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    • Sorry for taking so long to reply, it’s been a busy week. I agree with the sort of, it seems everything in nature is more complex than we first realize.

      March 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

      • I wasn’t in any hurry and knew you’d get around to it when you had time.

        i agree-it’s a big mistake to fool ourselves into thinking nature is simple and we have it all figured out.

        March 9, 2012 at 11:04 am

  3. A very entertaining post. 🙂

    March 6, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    • Sorry for taking so long to reply, it’s been a busy week. Thanks Bob!

      March 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

  4. I laughed and laughed! 🙂 But you described it perfectly just as it happens! Those mallards are non-stop at times around here. They even come up on the grass, chasing a female, while fighting & biting each other, trying to be selected as her pick for the deed. She’ll just watch and quack at them, I think egging them on! LOL

    March 6, 2012 at 11:08 pm

  5. That was seriously funny 🙂

    March 7, 2012 at 12:56 am

    • Thank you, watching mallards at any time of the year is far more entertaining than most of the crap on TV these days.

      March 9, 2012 at 9:55 am

  6. I literally laughed out loud. I’m with ya on the “ex” part and have my own stories, LOL. Great photos as usual, Very entertaining!

    March 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    • Sorry for taking so long to reply, it’s been a busy week. Thank you!

      March 9, 2012 at 9:57 am

  7. Awesome post! 😀

    March 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm

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  9. Steve

    Well done…I’ve watched this ritual myself a few times, and I learn a new thing each time! Keep up the duck blog…reading this makes me feel like I’m sitting by the duck pond myself.

    July 20, 2012 at 10:35 pm

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