Everyone visiting the Brighton millpond at this time of year finds Mallard hens standing in parking lots or on grass a short distance from the pond. It’s a way for them to avoid the advances of drakes that can be very insistent.
Drakes also attack rival drakes. This male was found alone at the north end of the pond yesterday. He has bloody open wounds on his head and his demeanor tells me he’s been savaged by other drakes. Sometimes the weaker birds will be killed. Most of the time, the wounded birds will hide in vegetation or leave the pond entirely until they heal. Most wildlife doesn’t want to appear vulnerable to predators or rivals.
I’ve also seen drakes attack injured ducks. It’s a way to reduce the number of rivals or prove one’s dominance. Buttless Bob is perpetually attacked by other males. Apparently his lack of tail feathers signals to the other boys that he is weaker. He does fight back. Still, every year during the mating season, he gets pecked by males until his head is bloodied.