Mandarin Duck Fun Facts

Male Mandarian DuckThe Mandarin duck is native to Eastern Asia, although it has now been introduced to Western Europe and North American coasts. Due to deforestation and habitat destruction, the populations in Asia are less than those in Europe. Populations in China and Russia especially are low, although Japan still is home to many Mandarin ducks. The preferred habitat of Mandarin ducks is forests and shrublands. They nest in trees, which is unusual for a duck. In Europe, these ducks are more likely to live in open areas, such as beside lakes.

The courtship ritual for Mandarin ducks is complex. While the colorful feathers of males do help them find a mate, they still need to do more to impress a female. They bob their heads, pretend to preen and drink, and shake their feathers. A whistling call is also incorporated into their courtship routine, even though Mandarin ducks tend to be very quiet birds. They are monogamous and this behavior has earned them the reputation of “wedding ducks” in Eastern Asia. Mandarin ducks are symbols of fidelity and happiness and small carvings of Mandarin ducks are given as gifts at Korean weddings.


Female Mandarin with DucklingsMandarin ducks nest in the spring in cavities of trees close to the water. A typical clutch consists of nine to twelve eggs. The father doesn’t incubate the eggs or raise the chicks but he does defend the nest and mother. He leaves shortly before the chicks hatch.

The nests are typically built up to 30 feet off the ground. To get to the water, the ducklings need to find a way down. The mother calls encouragingly to them to follow her to the water and, not yet able to fly, the ducklings jump from the nest to the ground, which is cushioned by leaves and grass. Once all the ducklings have left the nest, the mother leads them to the nearest body of water.


Female Mandarin Duck

The diet of a Mandarin duck is diverse. They eat seeds and grains during the fall and winter, but in the spring and summer they eat small fish, mollusks, frogs, small snakes, worms, insects, and aquatic plants. They usually only feed at dawn and dusks. During the day, they can be found on the shore resting.





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