Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)

Native to east Asia, the Mandarin Duck is arguably the most beautiful duck species in world. Their closest relative is the just as colorful North American Wood Duck and belong to the same genus, Aix. Both species nest in tree cavities and have long toe nails on their web feet to allow them perch on branches.

Scientific classification: Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Aves, Order Anseriformes, Family: Anatidae, Genus: Aix, Species: Aix galericulata

Other Names: Mandarin

Range: The Mandarin Duck is native to eastern Asia - they are year-round residents of Japan and Taiwan, breeding in southeastern Russia, northeastern China, and North Korea, migrating to southern and eastern China. They have been introduced to parks and cities all over the world and breeding populations established in the United Kingdom, and in parts of Germany and France. In the United States, a feral population exists in California alongside North American Wood Ducks and single, escaped aviary birds have been observed in nearly every state.

Subspecies: None, however, there are a number of color variants in captive populations.

Habitat: In their native Asia, Mandarin Ducks prefer wetlands during the breeding season with forests nearby for nesting. They will winter in a variety of waterways including estuaries and coastal regions.

Status in Wild: The native Asian population has dropped significantly due to habitat loss, but are still listed as Least Concern by the IUCN.

Aviculture: The Mandarin Ducks are very hardy, beautiful and easy to care for, making them an excellent choice for the aviary. They do well in mixed species exhibits, but please make sure the aviary is large enough for each species to have their own breeding territory. They are very quick and agile fliers, an aviary should have plenty of room for them to fly when alarmed and not hurt themselves. Mandarins love to roost up high, so provide plenty of branches and logs above the ground inside the aviary. Like all the species of duck, Mandarins do require a source of clean, fresh water, but a large pond is not required. A child's wading pool with a ladder for entering and exiting will work great for those with limited space.

The Mandarin Duck is a cavity nesters and require nesting boxes to nest in. The breeding season begins in late April when the hen begins to lay her clutch of 8 to 12 eggs that are incubated for about 28 days. The hens are good mothers and will riase her own young if you allow her to. The ducklings grow quickly and are able to fly at 8 weeks.

Interesting Facts: Like most ducks of the Northern Hemisphere, Mandarin Duck males go through an eclipse plumage during the late summer months. He loses all of his ornate colors (as well as flight feathers) for about 5 weeks, he will look very much like the female during this period before regrowing his breeding plumage prior to fall migration.

In Korean and Japanese cultures, the Mandarin Duck is known as a symbol of marital fidelity, due in large part to their strong pair bonds.

The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer, but when the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again. - William Beebe, 1906

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