Today in quirky bird names, we bring you a Mallard from, you guessed it, Spain. Apparently the name is derived from Old French – from mallart, or wild drake – and also from masle, meaning male.
As a female, I am slightly offended by this gendering what is, at the end of the day, a duck. A duck with a lovely green head that is found across most of the world in a distinct two sexes, but neverthless, a duck, which should, by all accounts, defy gendering.
But ah well. That’s taxonomists for you.
Google tells me it is the commonest duck of the northern hemisphere, to which I have to say: thank you very much, I could have figured that out myself. (I mean, aside from the fact “northern hemisphere” should include Singapore. As restaurant names constantly remind us, we are 1º North!) I’ve seen it across what little of Europe I’ve been too, and also in Washington, D.C. – so it is a bit of a high flyer. (Get it. GET IT.)
But it’s not all jokes and names with this duck. Due to its extreme popularity as an adornment for man-made waterbodies and its extreme success at doin’ it with practically every other related duck in sight, interbreeding is a major problem whenever this duck moves in. Because it diverged relatively recently from the Tree of Life, its hybrid offspring are often fertile as well. This is usually not a good thing for preserving the genetic pool of another species.
So a mallard over a metropolis is, at the end of the day, a common sight. Let’s just hope their increase in numbers doesn’t lead to Mallards over Metropolises And No Other Duck.