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Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Date: March 18th, 2023

Location: China, Beijing, Yuanmingyuan Park

The Yuanmingyuan Park is a great opportunity to observe various bird species closely and take clear pictures. It is the habitat of numerous bird species, and the availability of species vary as seasons change. Parks are an important green infrastructure. Besides other benefits for human and animals, parks provide important bird habitats and accommodate most human-bird interactions in cities.

The mandarin duck is a type of colorful perching duck species. This medium-sized duck is native to East Asia, particularly China, Japan, and Korea, and has also been introduced to other parts of the world as an ornamental bird. The mandarin duck belongs to the family Anatidae, which includes ducks, geese, and swans. Moreover, because of its distinctive and colorful appearance, it is widely regarded as the world's most beautiful duck. Mandarin ducks are mainly found in forested areas near water, such as lakes, ponds, and rivers. Despite their popularity as an ornamental bird, the wild population of Mandarin ducks is considered to be stable, and they are classified as a species of "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Mandarin ducks are famous for their vibrant and striking plumage, which varies in color depending on gender. The male Mandarin duck has a stunning combination of red, orange, green, white, and purple feathers, with a distinctive orange "sail-like" crest on the back of its head. Meanwhile, the female Mandarin duck is less colorful, with predominantly grey-brown plumage, white eye-ring, and a white stripe behind the eye. However, female mandarin ducks have an area of purple feathers under their wings.

Mandarin ducks are also known for their courtship behavior, which is often seen in the winter and early spring. The male Mandarin duck performs a series of elaborate displays, including head-bobbing, neck-stretching, and vocalizations to attract a mate. Once paired, the female will build a nest in a tree cavity or nest box and lay up to 12 eggs. The male will then provide food for the female during the incubation period, which lasts around 30 days.

Male Mallard:

Female Mallard:

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