STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
RANGE: East Asia
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
Mandarin ducks are sexually dimorphic and can be distinguished by their plumage and bill colors. Female mandarins are lightly colored and mostly gray. Their wings and breasts are a light brown and gray with white spots. Their undersides are white. Females have metallic blue speculum and some white stripes on the secondary flight feathers. Legs and feet are usually yellowish and they have a brown bill with a pink or yellow base. Male mandarin ducks have two different plumage colors depending on the time of year. During the majority of the year, while sporting their eclipse plumage, they look similar to females but can be recognized by their bill colors. During spring, males have very showy plumage with an overall golden appearance. Males have a long, blue, green, and copper crest that extends down their neck when not raised and a white area around their eyes. They have a purple breast and iridescent blue on the back and side feathers.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
The mandarin duck forages for food mostly during dawn or dusk. During the day, they perch either on the ground or in trees. The only other ducks mandarins associate with are wood ducks. They do not typically live in flocks but will form flocks for the winter. While males have extraordinary plumage during breeding season, once it molts and reverts to its eclipse plumage in summer, it blends right into their habitat. Females will not molt after breeding until her offspring learn to fly before migration.
In the wild, mandarin ducks breed in spring near shallow lakes, ponds, or marshes in dense wooded areas. Females lay nine to twelve eggs in tree cavities near the water, usually in April or May. The female will incubate them for about thirty days. While the male may defend a brooding female and her eggs, he will not sit on the eggs himself and will leave a few weeks after the ducklings hatch. A short while after the ducklings hatch, the female will leap from to the ground to coax the ducklings to leave the nest. Once all are out of the tree, they will follow their mother to the nearest body of water. A few months later, around August, the ducklings will be able to fly. The family group will then migrate in September.
These ducks are native to China, Japan, Korea, and East Russia
They tend to inhabit and breed in dense and shrubby areas of forests near the edges of rivers and lakes.
The diet of mandarin ducks changes seasonally. They feed mainly on seeds and plants, such as acorns and grains in the winter and fall. However, in spring, they mostly eat insects, mollusks, and small fish.