Mandarin Ducks (Aix galericulata), native to eastern Russia, China, Korea, and Japan, are considered one of most ornate plumage of all ducks. They are a medium sized perching duck, which is similar in many aspects to the North American counterpart, the Wood Duck. Mandarin Ducks are classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. Mandarin Ducks have an important cultural aspect in Oriental art especially, as they are considered a symbol of fidelity, owing to their pair bonds. The males of this species have a reddish-pink bill, which leads up to a white crescent around the eye that is surrounded by wispy feathers that are reddish-brown, green, and purple. The breast is dark purple and bordered by vertical stripes of black and white. The flanks are a golden-buff color that appears stenciled with fine, black markings. Above the flanks are bright blue feathers, and a large orange sail feather on each side of the body that is preceded by a gracefully curved white feather. The back is brown, as is the tail. The legs of the drakes are bright orange. Both sexes have a white underside. Hen are mostly brown with hints of grey and light buff dots. Their eyes are encircled in white and have a white line extending from the eye (whereas Wood Duck hens solely have a white circular region around the eye).
Mandarin Ducks are very common in captivity, and are often the "gateway species" into the world of ornamental waterfowl. I highly recommend this species to anyone who wishes to delve into ornamental ducks, as this species is inexpensive, easy to raise, and does not require permits to breed or sell. They are very compatible in a mixed collection. The drakes will likely skirmish, but this usually does not result in any injuries. Both the drakes and hens take part in selecting a nest, and I usually get eggs starting in early April. The hens lay between 6-10 eggs, and they can lay a smaller second clutch. I have even had hens go broody and still lay a second clutch. Their incubation period is 32 days. I always let my Mandarin Duck hens incubate their eggs, though I typically pull their ducklings. The ducklings are quite easy to get started and they grow quite quickly. By their first fall, the drakes acquire breeding plumage. Overall, Mandarin Ducks are just about identical to Wood Ducks in terms of maintaining and propagating them. Although common, Mandarin Ducks make a nice addition to any collection as they are the epitome of beauty of the waterfowl species.
At this point, I am not breeding Mandarin Ducks and will simply be keeping them for aesthetic reasons. If you have any questions about their care or are interested in acquiring some, contact me and I will point you in the right direction.