We compared the distribution patterns of winter band recoveries of American black ducks (Anas rubripes) and mallards (A. platyrhynchos) banded in the same breeding areas. Young black ducks wintered northeast of young mallards but no differences in distribution patterns were detected between adult birds of the 2 species. Mallards exhibited greater temporal variation in distribution patterns and less fidelity to wintering areas. We speculate that these differences in distribution patterns are related to different behavioral responses by mallards and black ducks to variation in resource availability. Black ducks may reduce energy expenditure during periods of extreme cold and wait for conditions to improve, whereas mallards may migrate to areas that are warmer of where more food is available. The availability of quality habitat may be critical to the survival of black ducks during harsh weather conditions because of their relative lack of migrational flexibility, whereas mallards may be able to respond by migrating to favorable environments.
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Distribution patterns of American black duck and mallard winter band recoveries