Autumn field-feeding patterns of the wild mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos)
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Sixteen adult male and 8 adult female post moult mallards were equipped with radio transmitters, in a two year study (1977-6AHY-M and 4AHY-F; 1978-10AHY-M and 4AHY-F). Field-feeding was monitored at a lure crop and on adjacent grain fields. Ninety-two percent of the mallards radio-equipped were recorded at a field-feeding site at least once with 71% recorded field-feeding within one week. There was no significant difference in field-feeding activity between males and females. In the morning during periods of rain, mallards field-fed 0.55h longer, arriving 0.30h later and departing 0.9h later than mallards field-feeding during clear weather. The morning field-feeding period was longer in duration than the evening foeld-feeding period. Light intensity was the dominant climatological variable contributing to the arrival of mallards in the morning during periods of no rain (multiple R2=68.1%) and rain (R2=69.5%). Light appeared to act as an initiating cue for morning feeding activity. A high correlation existed between duration of stay during periods of no rain (r=0.815) and rain (r=0.860) suggesting that mallards remained longer at a field-feeding site in the morning by departing later, not arriving earlier. Light intensity was also the dominant climatological variable contributing to the arrival of mallards in the evening amongst those mallards which field-feed in both the morning and evening (R2=78.1%) and those which field-fed in the evening only (R2=63.3%). In addition, light intensity was the only contributing factor in the evening for all mallards departing a field-feeding site (R2=72.7%). Mallards were never recorded field-feeding longer than 15 minutes after there was non measurable light...