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Mandarin Ducks: Original Pictures and Information on Mandarins

Updated on October 2, 2018
annmackiemiller profile image

Ann is a passionate birder and photographer. She loves nothing better than creating photo storybooks about her beloved birds.

Male and Female Mandarin Ducks

Female and male Mandarin ducks.
Female and male Mandarin ducks. | Source

Mandarin Ducks at Martin Mere

Mandarin ducks are one of the most photogenic birds you can find. They are not actually native to Britain so we mostly see them in reserves and private collections. That said some have escaped into the wild and are becoming more common in Britain. According to the RSPB there are around 2300 breeding pairs in England now.

They originated in Asia but in the last 50 years have become naturalised in parts of Britain. They are also known as Beijin Ducks, or Love Ducks and have the reputation of being particularly loving. Hence they are used in feng shui to symbolise marriage, couples. fidelity and loyalty.

Here is a showcase of some delightful photos taken at Martin Mere, one of the WWT reserves in England.

Female Mandarin Duck

Female Mandarin Duck
Female Mandarin Duck | Source

Bird Picture: Male Mandarin Duck

Male Mandarin duck
Male Mandarin duck | Source

Mandarin Ducks: The Facts

Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)

This colourful duck was so named because of the male’s brilliant skull plumage which resembles ancient Chinese Mandarin head-dress. It is native to Asia, but with imports has become naturalised in the UK. It received official British breeding status in 1971 and there are now around 7000 birds in Britain ranging from London and the south to Perthshire in Scotland. Locally, we have one recent sighting on the Leeds to Liverpool Canal near Bingley, West Yorkshire. Export of live birds and habitat destruction threaten the populations in Korea and China.

Photo Gallery - Male Mandarin Duck

male mandarin
male mandarin | Source
male mandarin duck on water
male mandarin duck on water
male mandarin at Martin Mere
male mandarin at Martin Mere
male mandarin duck
male mandarin duck
male mandarin duck
male mandarin duck

Appearance and habitat

The male or drake, is a very distinctive bird when in breeding plumage – they lose this in summer while they moult and become almost unidentifiable to the female except for the red bill.

Both sexes are similar in size: they are medium to small birds with compact bodies and largish heads. The male has distinctive orange whiskers and ‘sail’, display feathers near the short tail. Forehead plumage on the male is black with green iridescence. Both male and female have white eye circles or spectacles that carry on a line down the crest; on the male the band is wider. The male has orange-tawny coloured cheeks with long feathers forming a ruff. The head also displays some purple and grey-green while the breast is maroon with black and white stripes. Feathers towards the rear form orange sails. The flanks are chestnut brown to orange while abdomen and under-tail feathers are white. They have yellow legs and feet.

The female is much less gaudy but still an extremely attractive bird with brown eyes outlined with white. They also display some white on the throat and have a white line at the base of the grey bill. They are mainly olive with brown underbelly and pale spotted sides. Yellow legs and feet.

Ray Hutchins in his book, Wildfowl of the Northern Hemisphere, reports the male call as, “a sharp rising weak whistle” [while the female has a] “soft quack as a kek or ack”.

In native habitat these birds prefer lakes and rivers/canals with overhanging sheltering vegetation. They eat nuts and seeds, insects and small fish. They can lay up to 12 eggs that hatch in around 28 days.

What do mandarin ducks eat?

They tend to like small insects, snails and the like and will dabble in water for plant life. They will eat small fish too.

On land, they forage for seeds and some grasses though they are not really grazing birds. I'm told they have a particular fondness for acorns.

Male and Female Mandarin ducks perching

mandarin ducks
mandarin ducks | Source
mandarin ducks asleep
mandarin ducks asleep

How do Mandarins nest?

They like to nest high up in cavities of trees. They don't actually build a nest rather rely on natural chippings and moss that is there already. The female will pluck feather from her breast to cover eggs though.

They tend to lay 8 eggs. Only the female incubates the eggs while the male stands guard. The eggs hatch in around 28 days. The hatchlings don't get long to enjoy the nest though. Soon after hatching the female will fly to the ground and call for them. They jump down, sometimes from a great height and they won't return to the nest after that. The female broods them on the ground.

Both parents guard the chicks for the first couple of weeks, teaching them where to find food and so on.

At Martin Mere and other reserves, nesting boxes are provided with ramps for access but the eggs are removed and taken to their incubation centre. They consider them too valuable to leave for the adult birds to incubate. There are lots of predators waiting to pluck these out. Herons and gulls in particular wait until the grounds empty of visitors and staff them swoop in to this ready food source.

Photo Gallery: Mandarin threesome

mandarin ducks
mandarin ducks
mandarin ducks
mandarin ducks

Mandarin ducks and feng shui

One source I read cited mandarin ducks as a "cure for single people!" - Not QUITE sure it is something that needs curing, but... if you want to increase your chances of getting into a relationship - placing a pair of mandarin ducks in the right place in your home is said to double your chances. Placed in the south-west corner of a home or in a bedroom is said to emit positive emission relating to love and attraction.

They are certainly seen as an ideal in love and companionship and so are frequently given as gifts on marriage and anniversaries. Link that with the positive vibes in rose quartz - and how can you go wrong? Love Birds in the Love Stone.

Take a minute to take the poll

Have you seen Mandarins

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© 2010 annmackiemiller

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    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 

      4 years ago from London

      Lovely photos Ann!

    • annmackiemiller profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      thanks folks, they really are quite beautiful aren't they?

    • annmackiemiller profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      any time - I'll send you a high resolution piccie

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 

      4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      What beautiful ducks! Great photos and info.Thanks for sharing.

    • shay-marie profile image

      Shay Marie 

      4 years ago from Southern California

      To echo everyone else here: gorgeous ducks! These are stunning photos.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      4 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Incredible gorgeous. I may ask you for permission to paint one of these pictures one day. :)

    • princesswithapen profile image


      7 years ago


      These pictures are beautiful. The colors on the male mandarin duck are stunning! Excellent hub and excellent pictures!


    • Bud Gallant profile image

      Bud Gallant 

      8 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Very beautiful. I am glad to have learned about these ducks from your hub, and, as usual, your photography creates a delight for the eyes.

    • annmackiemiller profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      thanks Evelyn, that means a lot to me

    • evelynsaenz profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      8 years ago from Vermont

      Mandarin Ducks are certainly exotic looking ducks and you have amazing skills as a photographer.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      How gorgeous! Great info. Thanks for sharing. The photos are beautiful.

    • LindaJM profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      They are such beautiful ducks!


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