Mallard’s #metoo


Most mating between Mallards seems to be consensual and initiated by the female. Yet, there are more males than females. This leads to roving bands of bachelor drakes. This, in turn, leads to rape — or as naturalists delicately put it: forced copulation.

Ducks are not humans and the forced copulation presumably has evolutionary advantages for the species. Yet when seen through human eyes, the behaviour is disconcerting. 

Mommy Mallard was taking her dozen ducklings out on the water. Being a member of a sexually dimorphic species, the mallard female attends her chicks without male support.

So it was unexpected to see two males swimming towards the family. There, they began neck pumping, a sign of courtship. Mommy quacked her objection to this inappropriate behaviour.

Mommy’s first thought was to escape. However, she has a problem: if she leaves, her chicks are vulnerable. So, she returned.

Having returned to guard her chicks, Mommy was put upon. 

As far I could tell, over the next few minutes the males took turns.

“Oh come now; Do you have to do this in front of my chicks?

“What are you doing to Mommy?”


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5 Responses to Mallard’s #metoo

  1. Slydog says:

    I need a drink.

  2. Max says:

    Sexual coercion in waterfowl is a pretty low percentage gamble for the male. His organs are spirally shaped counterclockwise, the female clockwise. So without her consent insemination is unlikely. I think if the organs evolved this way, the males must try this regularly, and there is little to no benefit for the female.

    • Alistair says:

      Max, I report on what I see. Yet, I suspect that if you are a bachelor drake, even a low-percentage gamble is at least a possibility.

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