US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in The Condor 86:258-265.


Sex and age ratios, habitat selection, spatial characteristics, and time budgets of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) wintering on the Platte River in south central Nebraska were studied from mid-December to early April 197% 1980. The proportion of females and subadults in the population increased substantially from a cold to a mild winter. Radio-tagged Mallards shifted from riverine to canal roost sites during the coldest periods of the winter, seemingly because of more favorable microclimatic conditions there. Subadults ranged over larger areas during winter than did adults. Activity patterns varied with weather conditions, time of day, and habitat type. During cold periods, energetically costly activities such as aggression and courtship decreased at roost sites and the intensity of foraging activities in fields increased. Mallards were more active at riverine than canal sites during both years. High energy requirements and intense competition for scarce food appear to be primary factors limiting the northernmost distribution of Mallards in winter and causing their skewed sex and age ratios.