Aix galericulataMandarin duck

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Geographic Range

The Mandarin duck breeds in eastern Siberia, China, and Japan and winters in southern China and Japan. There is a small free-flying population in Britain stemming from the release captive bred ducks.

Habitat

The Mandarin lives in the forests of China and Japan. They prefer wooded ponds and fast flowing rocky streams to swim, wade, and feed in.

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds

Physical Description

In full plumage, the male has a pair of "sail" feathers that are raised vertically above the back, a crest of orange and cream feathers, and a broad white eye-stripe that is bounded above and below by darker feathers. The female is duller in color and has an overall grey appearance marked by a curving white stripe behind the eye and a series of white blotches on the underparts. In flight, both sexes display a bluish-green iridescent speculum.

  • Range mass
    428 to 693 g
    15.08 to 24.42 oz

Reproduction

Mandarin courtship display is very impressive and includes mock-drinking and shaking. Pairs are formed at the beginning of the winter and may continue for many seasons. Although the female chooses the exact nesting site, the male accompanies the female on nest searches. Nest are alway in a hole in a tree and can be up to thirty feet from the ground. In preparation for egg laying, the female lines the nest is with down. Clutch sizes range from nine to twelve white oval eggs that are laid at daily intervals. Incubation is solely performed by the female and last between 28 and 30 days. When all the eggs are hatched (they hatch within a few hours of each other), the mother calls to the chicks from the ground. Each chick then crawls out of the hole and launches itself into a free fall. Amazingly, all the chicks land unhurt and are en route to the nearest feeding ground. Once the chicks are able to fly (after 40-45 days), they leave to join a new flock.

  • Range eggs per season
    9 to 12

Behavior

In the Far East, Mandarins are migratory. Some of the ducks in England also make long-distance flights. Most ducks in the British population, however, are sedentary. These birds have been known to cover 500 miles in 24 hours.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The Mandarin Duck's basic diet consists of water plants, rice and other grains.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

They have been exported to the west, namely Britain, since 1745. They are bred in captivity by European avicultururalists.

Conservation Status

Derstruction of habitat has had a severe impact on the oriental populations of Mandarins. In 1911, the Tung Ling forest, a Mandarin stronghold, was opened up for settlement and thereafter forests were cleared. By 1928 few sufficient breeding areas remained. The current Asian population may be under 20,000 birds. One factor that has helped the Mandarin to survive is their bad taste. These ducks are not hunted for food.

Other Comments

The Mandarin is held in high esteem by the Japanese and the Chinese. In these countries, they serve as a symbol of happiness and marital fidelity.

Contributors

Marie S. Harris (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

migratory

makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Gooders, J., and T. Boyer. 1986. Ducks of North America and the Northern Hemisphere. Facts on File Publications.

Johnsgard, Paul, A. 1992. Ducks in the Wild. Prentice Hall General Reference.