Mandarin Duck – Profile | Traits | Threats | Habitat | Breeding

Mandarin duck

The mandarin duck, scientific name Aix galericulata is a perching duck species native to the East Palearctic. It is medium-sized, at 41–49 cm (16–19 in) long with a 65–75 cm (26–30 in) wingspan.

Mandarin duck Profile

It is carefully associated with the North American wooden duck, the one different member of the genus Aix. Aix is an Ancient Greek phrase that was utilized by Aristotle to consult with an unknown diving bird, and galericulata is the Latin for a wig, derived from galerum, a cap, or bonnet.

The average size for the Mandarin Duck is between 43-51cm, wings folded 22.1-22.6cm. They have a tail size of 10.2-10.4cm and an average bill size of 27.9mm.

In full plumage, the male Mandarin is probably the most lovely of all geese. The males have an iridescent crown extending to a long crest and chestnut cheeks.

The Mandarins diet consists of seeds, acorns, grain, aquatic crops, bugs, land snails, and fish. The diet is seasonal, within the fall acorns and grains are favored whereas, within the spring bugs, snails, fish, and vegetation are most popular. During the summer season months dew worms, grasshoppers, small fish, frogs, mollusks, and small snakes are most popular.

The Mandarin Duck originated in China however may be discovered virtually wherever there’s appropriate habitat. They are believed to be semi-migratory and semi-colonial.

They are scattered all through Southeast Russia, Northeast China, Japan, Southern England, and Siberia. Mandarins have been launched to the west for breeding functions by aviculturists and may be found in zoos around the world.

The fall migration ranges from China, Japan, Manchuria, North Korea, to the central and southern islands east of the Sea of Japan. Mandarins favor living in woodlands next to the water that has many bushes with holes for nesting. They favor mountain areas with streams, marshland, and forests.

mandarin duck, scientific name Aix galericulata

Mandarin duck  Distribution and habitat

The species was as soon as widespread in East Asia, however large-scale exports and the destruction of its forest habitat have lowered populations in eastern Russia and in China to below 1,000 pairs in every nation; Japan, nonetheless, is assumed to nonetheless maintain some 5,000 pairs. The Asian populations are migratory, overwintering in lowland eastern China and southern Japan.

Specimens regularly escape from collections, and within the twentieth century, a big, feral population was established in Great Britain; more not too long ago, small numbers have bred in Ireland, concentrated within the parks of Dublin.

Now, about 7,000 are in Britain with different populations on the European continent, the most important of which is within the area of Berlin. Isolated populations exist within the United States.

The city of Black Mountain, North Carolina, has a restricted population,[6] and a free-flying feral population of a number of hundred mandarins exists in Sonoma County, California.

This population is the result of a number of geese escaping from captivity, then reproducing within the wild. In 2018, a single bird, dubbed Mandarin Patinkin, was seen in New York City’s Central Park.

The habitats it prefers in its breeding range are the dense, shrubby forested edges of rivers and lakes. It largely happens in low-lying areas, however, it could breed in valleys at altitudes of as much as 1,500 m (4,900 ft).

In winter, it moreover happens in marshes, flooded fields, and open rivers. While it prefers freshwater, it could even be seen wintering in coastal lagoons and estuaries.

In its launched European range, it lives in a more open habitat than in its native range, around the sides lakes, water meadows, and cultivated areas with woods close by.

mandarin duck, scientific name Aix galericulata

Mandarin duck Food and Feeding

Mandarins feed by dabbling or strolling on land. They primarily eat crops and seeds, particularly beech mast. The species will even add snails, bugs, and small fish to its diet.

The diet of mandarin geese modifications seasonally; within the fall and winter, they largely eat acorns and grains. In the spring, they largely eat bugs, snails, fish, and aquatic crops.

In the summer season, they eat dew worms, small fish, frogs, mollusks, and small snakes. They feed primarily close to daybreak or nightfall, perching in bushes or on the ground through the day.

Mandarin duck  Description

The adult male has a red bill, a big white crescent above the attention, and reddish face, and “whiskers”. The male’s breast is purple with two vertical white bars and the flanks ruddy, and he has two orange “sails” on the back (giant feathers that stick up like boat sails).

The feminine is just like the feminine wooden duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe working back from the attention, however is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill.

Both the men and women have crests, however, the purple crest is more pronounced on the male.

Like many different species of geese, the male undergoes a moult after the mating season into eclipse plumage. When in eclipse plumage, the male appears to be just like the feminine however may be informed aside by its vibrant yellow-orange or red beak, lack of any crest, and a less-pronounced eye-stripe.

Mandarin ducklings are virtually similar in look to wooden ducklings and similar to mallard ducklings. The ducklings may be distinguished from mallard ducklings as a result of the eye-stripe of mandarin ducklings (and wooden ducklings) stops on the eye, whereas in mallard ducklings it reaches all the best way to the bill.

Mandarin duck  Characteristics

The average size for the Mandarin Duck is between 43-51cm, wings folded 22.1-22.6cm. They have a tail size of 10.2-10.4cm and an average bill size of 27.9mm.

In full plumage, the male Mandarin is probably the most lovely of all geese. The males have an iridescent crown extending to a long crest and chestnut cheeks.

The breast is maroon with black and white vertical stripes; the stomach and underside are white with gold and black flanks. The back and tail are olive-brown, the higher tail coverts are blue/green, and the scapulars are iridescent blue.

The outer tertials are orange and gold on the inside internet and type a sail form and the higher wing floor is usually olive-brown.

This sail form characteristic together with the white-eye stripe that extends from the bill and tapers towards the back of the head distinguishes the male from all others. Their bill is red and so they have whitish legs with yellow feet.
mandarin duck, scientific name Aix galericulata
The females, nonetheless, are much less colorful. Their color varies from grey and white to brown and greenish-brown. The crown and sides of the head and neck are grey with a white-eye ring and streak that tapers off in the direction of the neck. The throat and fore neck are white and the breast and sides of the body are buff and grey.

The back is gray-brown and there are a collection of white spots on the underparts. The wings are just like the males however without the tail feathers.

The bill is grayish black and the legs and feet are reddish-yellow. The feminine bears a robust resemblance to the feminine Wood Duck however may be distinguished by the slender eye stripe; the Wood Ducks is shorter and blunter.

Differences between the sexes are apparent, the males have a crested head and chestnut/orange wing and tail feathers which are raised vertically above their back.

The females are duller in color and lack the crested head. The juveniles resemble the females however the males have a pinkish bill. During molting durations when the Mandarin sheds its feathers, the males resemble females however may be distinguished by the red bill.

Mandarin duck Behavior

Compared to different geese, mandarins are shy birds, preferring to hunt cover under bushes akin to overhanging willows, and type smaller flocks, however, could turn into bolder because of changing into tame from frequent interplay with people.

The calls of the Mandarin sound just like ge,ge, wooing, and bifu. The Mandarin Duck hunts by head-dipping in shallow waters. In the wild, Mandarins will forage for his or her meals. Feeding happens throughout each day and night, however through the daytime, they spend a lot of their time in shady areas.

Males display an aggressive courtship flight for females. They are additionally one of many few who guard hens and ducklings till the ducklings are in a position to fly.

Mandarins are extremely social however males have been noticed spontaneously preventing with each other. The male produces a nasal; whistling observes throughout the display, whereas the feminine makes a high-pitched courtship call that appears like “keet”.

The male additionally makes a high-pitched staccato bark, a barely audible whistle and heard least typically, is the grunting sound, just like that of a wild pig.
mandarin duck, scientific name Aix galericulata
Courtship begins within the fall and includes very elaborate, complex behavior akin to shaking actions, display consuming and preening. Females take the initiative in selecting their mates by inciting behavior towards the popular male.

She will provoke copulatory behavior by performing head pumping actions then extending inclined on the water. The male performs bill dipping actions before mounting after which swims away from the feminine whereas orienting the back of his head in her path.

If the same companions are nonetheless alive by way of two breeding seasons, they sometimes re-form old bonds slightly than set up new ones. Because of their devotion to 1 one other, they’re regarded in China and Japan as a logo of affection, happiness, and marital constancy.

In the early summer season, their molting interval begins and ends around late September. During the molting interval, they sometimes search for the safety of forested lands or areas nicely hidden by heavy branches.

The feminine’s molting interval is set by her situation on the time. If she is nesting the molt is delayed. Fortunately, the male’s lack of color acts as a camouflage and protects them from predators.

Mandarin duck  Breeding

In the wild, mandarin geese breed in densely wooded areas close to shallow lakes, marshes, or ponds. They nest in cavities in bushes near the water and through the spring, the females lay their eggs within the tree’s cavity after mating.

A single clutch of 9 to 12 eggs is laid in April or May. Although the male could defend the brooding feminine and his eggs throughout incubation, he himself doesn’t incubate the eggs and leaves before they hatch.

Shortly after the duckling’s hatch, their mom flies to the ground and coaxes the ducklings to leap from the nest. After all the ducklings are out of the tree, they’ll comply with their mom to a close-by body of water.
mandarin duck, scientific name Aix galericulata
Nesting is completed in tree holes sometimes located over water. The nest hole is lined with down with an average clutch size of 8-10 eggs. The eggs are 56mm X 42mm with color variations of shiny buff to ivory.

The mom sheds her personal feathers to cover her eggs so she will be able to feed or relax. She could be very protective of each of her ducklings and her eggs.

The mom will decoy predators away from the nest. The male performs no half within the incubation process, which lasts about thirty days.

When the ducklings hatch they instinctively comply with their mom and tumble to the ground from the nest-hole of their tree. Amazingly, the chicks land unharmed.

Newly hatched ducklings are tough to watch as a result of the females are very protective of their brood. When the ducklings are feeding the mom stands to protect a short distance away.

If she senses hazard she’s going to lead the ducklings to shelter; diving underwater and swimming till they attain shelter within the long grass of the riverbank or lake.

If a predator is present, the mom will feign damage in an effort to distract the predator and lead it away from her brood.

The ducklings are normally in a position to fly in time for the autumn migration. Despite the protectiveness of their parents, half or more of the ducklings don’t survive the first two weeks of life.

mandarin duck, scientific name Aix galericulata


The Mandarin Duck hunts by head-dipping in shallow waters. In the wild, Mandarins will forage for his or her meals.
Mandarins have been launched to the west for breeding functions by aviculturists and may be present in zoos around the world.


Predation of the mandarin duck varies between completely different elements of its range. Mink, raccoon dogs, otters, polecats, Eurasian eagle-owls, and grass snakes are all predators of the mandarin duck.

The biggest risk to the mandarin duck is habitat loss on account of loggers. Hunters are additionally a risk to the mandarin duck as a result of typically they’re unable to acknowledge the mandarin in flight and consequently, many are shot accidentally.

Mandarin geese usually are not hunted for meals however are nonetheless poached as a result of their excessive magnificence is prized.

mandarin duck, scientific name Aix galericulata

Mandarin duck  Conservation

The Mandarin Duck isn’t listed in CITES as an endangered species, however may be thought about as close to threatened or of particular concern. They are listed as Class II key state safety animals of China. Worldwide population standing is unknown.

The present Asian population could also be under 20,000. In varied elements of southern England small, well-established feral populations exist, thriving in Virginia Water on the Berkshire/Surrey border.

In Russia, feral numbers are unknown, however, there are one hundred fifty reserves all through the nation that present properties for Mandarin Ducks, in addition to different endangered or threatened species within the hopes of the population rising. Feral populations additionally exist in Scotland and elements of northern Europe.

The decline of the Mandarin Duck may be blamed totally on people; primarily loggers, hunters, and poachers. The destruction of their habitats by loggers and clearing of the forests has had a severe impression on the wild populations.

Many hunters are unable to acknowledge them in flight and mistake them for different legally hunted geese and probably, as a result of male’s excessive magnificence, poachers prize them. Because of their unhealthy style, these geese usually are not hunted by people for meals.

The predators that threaten the Mandarin differ in their geological ranges. Known predators embody mink, raccoon dog, otters, polecats, eagle owls, and grass snakes.

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