The Daily Collegian, my alma mater's student newspaper, has viciously libeled mallard drakes. Quoting a story from webvet.com, the Collegian repeatedly asserts that mallards are rapists. Not "alleged rapists." Not "suspects with multiple hen accusers." But rapists.
Well, I feel the need to come to the ducks' defense. After all, they can't defend against libel on their own. Not even in Switzerland.
For my opening argument, I present Exhibit A, a report by Ducks Unlimited that says drakes are in most cases loyal to a single, consenting hen—not exactly the behavior you'd expect from serial rapists. From DU:
The two primary types of waterfowl mating systems are monogamy (having one mate) and polygamy (having several mates). Both occur in waterfowl, but monogamy is by far the dominant pattern. ... Mallards begin forming pair bonds in early winter, and by December, it's common to see pairs of mallards. Mate choice is ultimately up to the hen, but males choose which hens they court.
The Web Vet feature cited by The Daily Collegian appears to be quite sensationalized. Check out its opening salvo:
Rape is not typically something you associate with those darling “duckies” who bob along the surface of the water to the delight of children and adults at the local pond. It’s a shock to discover that male ducks are the rapists of the bird world. Often, a gang of three or four of them attacks a female duck, sometimes resulting in her injury or death.
Yet the DU article says drakes are conditioned to protect rather than attack hens:
Once pairs arrive on the breeding grounds, the male's main job appears to be to defend his mate and her nesting territory from intrusion by other mallards. This is partly to provide the hen with undisturbed feeding time but also to defend the male's paternity. Unpaired males will vigorously attempt to mate with unguarded females ... .
It is these unpaired males rather than drakes as a whole that tend to treat hens unkindly. Even Web Vet admits that "97 percent of all duck offspring are the result of the choice of the mother" (thanks largely to hens' unique anatomy) and nearly 70-percent of all duck matings are consensual.
Ladies and gentleman, ducky rape is clearly the exception, not the rule. To call ducks "the rapists of the bird world" can be described as nothing less than libel. So, how does the jury find?