Mandarin Duck –Aix galericulata.
The male mandarin has the most elaborate and ornate plumage with distinctive long orange feathers on the side of the face, orange ‘sails’ on the back, and pale orange flanks. The female is dull by comparison with a grey head and white stripe behind the eye, brown back and mottled flanks.
The mandarin duck lives in East Asia – China, Russia, Japan and Korea, but has also been introduced to Britain and Northern Europe, and a few have made it to the United States as well.
Similar to its cousin the Wood Duck, its preferred habitat is swamps, lakes and pools and it can grow to be up to 20 inches (51 cm).
They are extremely maneuverable fliers, able to fly through trees with remarkable agility. They frequently perch in trees, while the female invariably chooses a hole or cavity in a tree trunk in which to lay her eggs. As with most female ducks, the female mandarins don’t quack, but they do make a series of clucking calls that are invariably uttered when they see danger, such as a hunting fox.
What beautiful plumage the male mandarin duck has with its striking markings and colors. The female is mostly gray and not quite as striking. The East Asians have always been fascinated with the elegant looks of the bird using it in their artwork and giving them as gifts.
In their native China mandarins have long been regarded as symbols of fidelity and pairs were given to brides on their marriage day.
China historically exported hundreds of thousands of mandarins in the 1800’s, but the export trade was banned in 1975.
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