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  ScienceZoologyBirdsOrder Anseriformes
 
male and female Mandarin DucksMandarin Duck

Aix galericulata; the symbol of wedded bliss and fidelity in traditional Chinese culture

Description

One of the most colorful of all ducks, the male Mandarin duck has a red bill, large large white crescent above eye, reddish face and "whiskers," purple breast with two vertical white bars, and orange flanks. The female is considerably duller, with a white eye ring, a white stripe running back from each eye, and buff and gray breast and sides with white spots. Juveniles look like females, except that juvenile males have pinkish bills.

Mandarin ducks average 15-20 inches in length and have a wingspan of 25-30 inches.

Distribution and Habitat

Mandarin ducks are native to eastern Asia, with the largest populations in Japan, China and southern Siberia, but have also been introduced into some parts of Europe. They prefer mountain areas with streams, marshland or forests bearby.

Reproduction

Courtship displays take place in the fall, with both sexes engaging in very elaborate performances that include shaking movements, display drinking, and preening. Females choose their mates, and it is not uncommon for a female Mandarin duck to "pit" a favored male against other suitors. It is also not uncommon for a breeding pair to come back together in successive seasons.

The female builds her nest in a tree cavity over water. Eight to ten glossy buff to ivory eggs are laid, and they are incubated exclusively by the female for about thirty days. The drake does not stay with the hen while she is on the nest, but he will return after the eggs hatch and help with the feeding and protection of the ducklings.

Diet

Mandarins feed by dabbling in shallow water and by foraging on land. They eat plants and seeds, small fish, snails, insects, and small reptiles, with specific diets being seasonal.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Anseriformes
family Anatidae
genus & species Aix galericulata

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This page was last updated on December 17, 2014.

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