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A photo of a Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata), male
Mandarin Duck, Male

Mandarin Duck

Aix galericulata

The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) is a captivating species of perching duck native to the East Palearctic. Exhibiting pronounced sexual dimorphism, the male is adorned with an array of spectacular colors and ornate plumage, while the female maintains a more subdued appearance. This medium-sized duck measures 41–49 cm in length with a wingspan of 65–75 cm. It shares its genus with the North American Wood Duck, its closest relative.

Identification Tips

The male Mandarin Duck is unmistakable with its red bill, large white crescent above the eye, and a face graced with reddish "whiskers." The breast is a rich purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks are a vibrant ruddy color, complemented by two sail-like orange feathers at the back. The female, on the other hand, resembles the female Wood Duck, with a more muted grayish-lavender plumage, a distinctive white eye-ring, and a stripe extending from the eye. Both sexes boast crests, though the male's is more prominent.


Mandarin Ducks favor the dense, shrubby forested edges of rivers and lakes for breeding. They are typically found in low-lying areas but may also breed in valleys up to 1,500 meters in altitude. In winter, they can be found in marshes, flooded fields, and open rivers, and may also inhabit coastal lagoons and estuaries.


Originally widespread in East Asia, the Mandarin Duck's populations have declined in eastern Russia and China. However, Japan still hosts approximately 5,000 pairs. The species migrates to overwinter in lowland eastern China and southern Japan. In the British Isles and Western Europe, introduced populations have established, with notable numbers in Great Britain and the region of Berlin. Isolated populations also exist in the United States.


Mandarin Ducks are known for their shyness, often seeking cover under trees and forming smaller flocks. They may become more confident in the presence of humans.


Mandarin Ducks breed in densely wooded areas near water sources. They nest in tree cavities, laying a clutch of nine to twelve eggs in the spring. The male does not incubate the eggs and departs before they hatch. The ducklings leap from the nest to follow their mother to water shortly after hatching.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of Mandarin Ducks varies seasonally, consisting mainly of plants and seeds, such as beech mast. They also consume snails, insects, small fish, and in different seasons, acorns, grains, dew worms, frogs, mollusks, and small snakes. They typically feed at dawn or dusk.

Conservation status

The Mandarin Duck is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, habitat loss and accidental hunting pose threats to the species.

Mandarin Duck Sounds

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Mandarin Duck Fun Facts

Did you know?
Mandarin Ducks are native to Japan, China, Korea and South Russia.
Did you know?
Female Mandarin Ducks don't quack.

Mandarin Ducks on Birda


More Ducks, Geese, Swans

A photo of a Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) , male

Wood Duck

Aix sponsa
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