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Mandarin Duck

Order: Anseriformes - ducks, geese, swans

Family: Anatidae - ducks, geese, and swans

Scientific name: Aix (pronounced “i”) galericulata


Mandarin DuckDescription:  The Mandarin duck is very colorful with broad, fan-shaped, cinnamon wing feathers; a crest of green, white and rust feathers cascading off the back of the head; a white eye ring and belly; chocolate and white mottled breast; a red bill; and orangish-yellow feet.  Similar and related to the wood duck but somewhat fancier with different colors.

RangeRange:  Eastern Asia, from the Amur and Ussuri, south through Korea, eastern China, Japan, to Formosa.  Introduced in Great Britain and Northern Europe.    


Habitat:  Wooded streams and forest ponds and pools, oak forests.


Reproductive habits:  The Mandarin duck prefers vacant woodpecker holes or other tree cavities for nest sites.  These may be a considerable height above the ground or water, and are often quite deep into the tree.  Breeding begins in April 8-12 pale buff eggs are laid.  Incubation takes 28-30 days.  The chicks have olive-brown down with yellow underparts. The ducklings are expert climbers and use their bills and well developed claws to climb up to the entrance of the cavity.  The ducklings leave the nest the same day as hatching and tumble down to the ground or water to follow their mother.  Once the ducklings are able to fly (after 40-45 days), they leave to join a new flock.  They reach sexual maturity at one year of age in captivity.  When pairing takes place, the male plumage is used for spectacular displays.  These birds mate for life.


Diet in WildVegetable matter, seeds, insects, worms and various forms of aquatic life.  They are especially fond of acorns.


Diet in ZooWaterfowl maintenance and greens as enrichment.


General Info:  These hardy birds regularly perch in high trees.  Formerly pairs of caged Mandarins were given as presents at Chinese weddings and carried in the wedding procession as a symbol of marital fidelity.  Pairs of these ducks are popular in Japanese art and embroidery. These were so popular that wild birds were taken from their native habitat and introduced throughout Europe. However, native populations began to decline and they are now protected from being taken from the wild.


Predators:  felines, canines, birds of prey.  Ducklings are susceptible to aquatic predators (large fish).



Handbook of the Birds of the World., Vol. 1, Josep del Hoyo, et al., Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. p. 598.


The World Atlas of Birds, Mitchell Beazley Publishers Limited, Random House, Inc., New York, p. 175


Encyclopedia of Aviculture, Vol. 1, A. Rutgers, Blandford Press Ltd., Dorset, England, 1979. p.147.


The Birds of China. Rodolphe Meyer De Schauensee. Smithsonian Institute. 1984. p.149.