Saturday, 14 March 2015

Goldie the White Mallard Duck with her Ducklings

white mallard duck with ducklings
Goldie the white mallard duck with her ducklings

White Female Mallard Duck shows off her new Ducklings

This photo journal features a little white duck with her ducklings. The white duck is a mallard duck. It isn't unusual for mallard ducks to have unusual colourings, probably the result of centuries of inter-breeding.
Last year, a light-coloured female mallard appeared with a brood of 15 ducklings. Twelve were ordinary looking mallard ducklings, two were lighter in colour and one was golden yellow. She became 'Goldie' in a children's photo book I produced last year and she grew into a beautiful white duck.

This year, Goldie has produced her own ducklings. There are twelve of them and seven have inherited her white gene: presently they are tiny balls of yellow fluff who will also turn white as they mature. This page records the first appearance of 'Goldie' with her new ducklings.
mallard ducklings
Goldie as a little yellow duckling

Mallard Information:
  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Species: Anas platyrhynchos
  • Common name: Mallard duck
  • Length: 20-26 inches
  • Wingspan: 32-37 inches
  • Weight: 2-3 lbs
  • Lifespan: 15-25 years
white mallard duck with ducklings
White mallard with yellow chicks

Mallard Ducks and Colouring

Most female mallard ducks are often describes as brown but this underestimates their beauty. They have brown and fawn markings and a black mascara stripe through the eye. Like the male, they have blue wing flashes although they are slightly less obvious than the males. Over the centuries there has been much in-breeding especially in a domestic setting and so a wide range of colourings can appear any time. White mallards with orange beaks are not uncommon and shouldn't be confused with white calling ducks. Calling ducks are smaller and much, much more vocal. Until Goldie arrived in 2011, we only had one along the canal at Bingley. That other little white goose, Smudge, who features in articles here and on Squidoo, has not produced any white offspring. Goldie on the other hand, mated with a normal coloured male mallard, has produced 7 pure yellow ducklings, destined to turn white, and another two of her twelve are lighter coloured ones. The white in this case is probably leucism, not uncommon in birds of all groups. 
white mallard duck with ducklings
White female mallard duck with different coloured ducklings

Bird behaviouir: Parental care - mallard style

white female mallard duck with ducklings
An attentive mother - female mallard duck
Mallard ducks are very common but as ducklings they have a very high mortality rate. Many are taken by predators such as pike, heron, crows and magpies. Mallard ducklings generally tend to roam some distance from the female, the male being conspicuous by his absence in most cases. This makes them much more vulnerable that goslings who are generally kept close to both parents.
This is the first day these ducklings have been out on the canal and Goldie is keeping them close. Unlike some other females that have been observed she waits for stragglers and turns back to gather them in. Long may it continue.

...and so to Bed...

 With the evening light fading and rain on the way, Goldie calls the ducklings up onto the bank.  Like most youngsters there was some reluctance and it took a couple of trips back into the canal to get them all out.  Eventually though, all that could be seen was the occasional flash of a little beak beneath white tail feathers.
white mallard duck with ducklings
Goldie the mallard find a spot on the bank

white mallard duck broodhing ducklings
Goldie calls the ducklings in and they settle in under her for the night

white female mallard duck with ducklings
Goldie the white mallard duck with her brood

yellow mallard ducklings
Little Yellow Mallard Chicks

yellow mallard ducklings
'Sisters' Yellow Mallard Ducklings

yellow mallard duck chick
'it's a stretch' - yellow mallard duckling feeding on leaves

white female mallard duck with ducklings
white female mallard duck with yellow duckling

mallard duck chick
mallard duckling and waterlily leaf

white female mallard duck with ducklings
'mother and chick' white female mallard duck with duckling

mallard duck chick
mallard duckling

yellow mallard ducklings
little yellow mallard chicks


  1. Ann- these photos are so gorgeous! Very interesting post as well, you have a lovely blog :)

  2. Great post, very informative and lovely photos; here in Clifton, Bedfordshire we had one leucistic duckling in 2016. We called her "Custard." She's still on the village duck-pond, waiting to have ducklings of her own. I took lots of photos and put them on Google+