Mandarin Duck
Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
Aix
SPECIES
Aix galericulata
Population size
65-66 Thou
Life Span
3-12 years
Weight
428-693
15.1-24.4
goz
g oz 
Length
41-49
16.1-19.3
cminch
cm inch 
Wingspan
65-75
25.6-29.5
cminch
cm inch 

The Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) is a perching duck species native to the East Palearctic. It is closely related to the North American Wood duck, the only other member of the genus Aix. 'Aix' is an Ancient Greek word that was used by Aristotle to refer to an unknown diving bird, and 'galericulata' is the Latin for a wig, derived from galerum, a cap, or bonnet. Mandarin ducks, called yuan-yang by the Chinese, are featured often in Oriental art and regarded as symbols of conjugal fidelity and affection.

Cr

Crepuscular

Om

Omnivore

Se

Semiaquatic

Wa

Waterfowl

Pr

Precocial

Co

Congregatory

Ov

Oviparous

Mo

Monogamy

So

Social

Fl

Flocking

Mi

Migrating

M

starts with

Lu

Lucky Animals
(collection)

Co

Colorful Animals
(collection)

Appearance

Adult males are striking and unmistakable, with a red bill, a large white crescent above their eyes, and a reddish face with "whiskers". Their breasts are purple with double vertical white bars and their flanks are red and have two orange "sails" in the rear. During molting, the males resemble the females but their red bill is their point of difference. The females' bills are pinkish and they are much less colorful than males. They are pale beige with a thin white flank stripe and a white underbody and have a white eye-ring from where a stripe runs to the back of their heads.

Video

Distribution

Geography

Mandarin ducks breed in eastern Siberia, Japan, and China, and winter in Japan and southern China. In Britain, there is a small number of these birds in a free-flying population, stemming from the release of captive-bred ducks. Mandarin ducks prefer to breed in the dense, shrubby forested edges of rivers and lakes. In winter, they may occur in marshes, flooded fields, and open rivers. While these ducks prefer fresh water, they may also be seen wintering in coastal lagoons and estuaries. In their introduced European range, they live in a more open habitat than in their native range, around the edges of lakes, water meadows, and cultivated areas with woods nearby.

Mandarin Duck habitat map

Climate zones

Mandarin Duck habitat map
Mandarin Duck
Attribution-ShareAlike License

Habits and Lifestyle

Mandarin ducks find food in as well as out of the water. They may feed by dabbling or walking on land. They forage among debris on banks, at the water’s edge, and while swimming, occasionally up-ending when seeking deeper submerged food. They feed mainly near dawn or dusk, perching in trees or on the ground during the day. Mandarin ducks are social birds outside the breeding season and will gather in flocks, sometimes of more than 60. They are agile flyers, using strong, rapid wing beats, and can rise steeply from the water’s surface or land into the air. The male makes a nasal whistling, a grunting sound, and a bark, while the female makes a soft call.

Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Mandarin ducks are omnivores, but their diet changes seasonally. In the cold season, they are mainly herbivores (granivores), and they eat water plants and grains such as rice. When it's warm they eat insects, snails, small fish, and worms.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
April-May
INCUBATION PERIOD
28-30 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
40-45 days
FEMALE NAME
duck
MALE NAME
drake
BABY NAME
duckling
web.animal_clutch_size
9-12 eggs

Mandarin ducks are monogamous and pair bonds may continue for many seasons. The courtship display of this species is very impressive, including mock drinking and shaking. It is the female who chooses the site for the nest but the male goes with her to find it. The nest is in a hole up to 30 feet off the ground in a tree. 9 to 12 white oval eggs are laid at daily intervals during April and May. Incubation is just by the female and is for 28 to 30 days. The eggs hatch within several hours of each other and when all the ducklings are hatched, their mother calls them from the ground and they crawl out of the hole and jump, to land unhurt on the ground and head to the nearest feeding ground. After 40-45 days when they can fly, they leave and join a new flock. Mandarin ducks become mature at one year of age.

Population

Population threats

Formerly abundant, Mandarin duck populations in their native countries in the Far East have declined as a result of habitat destruction (mainly logging), as well as overhunting.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Mandarin duck population size is around 65,000-66,000 individuals. National population estimates include: in China: 100-10,000 breeding pairs and fewer than 50 wintering individuals; in Taiwan: fewer than 100 breeding pairs and fewer than 50 wintering individuals; in Korea: 100-10,000 breeding pairs, and in Japan: 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs plus 1,000-10,000 wintering individuals. According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) resource, the total breeding population in the UK is 2,300 pairs and the wintering population is 7,000 birds. Overall, currently, Mandarin ducks are classified as Least Concern (LC), but their numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • A Chinese proverb about loving couples uses this bird as a metaphor as follows: "Two Mandarin ducks playing in the water".
  • The symbol of the Mandarin duck is also used for Chinese weddings because they symbolize wedded happiness and fidelity in traditional Chinese lore.
  • Mandarin ducks can fly as far as 805 km (500 miles) in one day.
  • The Mandarin duck is widely regarded as the most beautiful duck in the world.
  • The drake’s stunning plumage makes it an artist's favorite, being depicted often in oriental art.
  • Mandarin ducks can maneuver very well in flight, flying through trees with incredible agility.
  • After hatching, ducklings jump down to the ground, protected from injury by their fluffy down and lightweight.

Coloring Pages

References

1. Mandarin Duck Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandarin_duck
2. Mandarin Duck on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22680107/0
3. Xeno-canto bird call - https://xeno-canto.org/685904
4. Video creator - https://avibirds.com

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