Did you know...
- There is a Chinese proverb used for couples in love: “Two Mandarin Ducks playing in water”.
- In Chinese lore, Mandarin Ducks symbolise fidelity and marital affection. The Mandarin Duck’s symbol features predominantly in Chinese weddings.
- In the 20th century, private collections in Great Britain often escaped, meaning that a feral population established itself.
Geographical Region: Asia
Our Mandarin Ducks can be found in the South-East Asia Rainforest, Jewels of Asia and Pheasantry aviaries.
Distribution & Habitat
The Mandarin Duck originates from Russia, Japan, China, North and South Korea and Taiwan. However it has also been introduced into Europe and can be found in Slovenia, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, France and the United Kingdom.
They are usually found in areas where there is forests with a water source nearb, with their nests located in tree cavities close to the water.
Description & Behaviour
There is a striking difference between the male and female Mandarin Duck. The adult male’s breast is purple coloured with two white vertical stripes. Its flanks are a reddish colour and towards the back are orange feathers in the shape of a sail. It has a red beak and white patches surround the eyes with a streak of green and red running down from the top of its head.
The female has a white ring around its eye which continues as a stripe towards the back. Its feathers are mottled brown and white.
The sail-like shoulder feather on the male Mandarin Duck can be replaced up to three times during the mating season if it is lost.
During winter Mandarin Ducks can gather in small flocks but they rarely associate with other ducks. The Asian population of the bird are migratory and will winter in East China in lower altitudes. The Japanese and feral population in Britain are sedentary.
The breeding season for the Mandarin Duck starts in April. They breed in single pairs and make their nests in tree hollows. Between 9 and 12 eggs are laid.
Soon after hatching, the mother encourages the ducklings to leave the nest and join her on the ground.
Mandarin Ducks mainly eat seeds, aquatic plants, acorns, grain and animal food such as insects, fish and land-snails. They feed by dabbling on the water surface and also by dipping their head and upending in the shallow water.
They usually feed around dawn or dusk. During they day they will perch in the trees or on the ground.
Threats & Conservation
The Mandarin Duck has been declining in Asia due to habitat destruction and from being exported in vast numbers for many years.