Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mystery Critter Wednesday 14 Solved

Mandarin Duck

Congratulations to Naturalist Guy!

Welcome to my blog first, and thanks for showing Scooter (my little brother) and Joan (the bug lady) how this game is played!

According to the Naturalist Guy's site he was "raised by hyenas, accepted into 21 indigenous tribes- what do you expect? Kenneth E. Barnett (Kenny) is NaturalistGuy (NG)."

Once again welcome Kenny and we really hope you return to play again.

Please go pay Kenny a visit at his great Nature Site.

The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata), or just Mandarin, is a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck. It is 41–49 cm long with a 65–75 cm wingspan.

The adult male is a striking and unmistakable bird. It has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and "whiskers". The breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange "sails" at the back. The female is similar to female Wood Duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill.

Unlike other species of ducks, most Mandarin drakes reunite with the hens they mated with along with their offsprings after the eggs have hatched and even share scout duties in watching the ducklings closely. However, even with both parents securing the ducklings, most of them do not survive to adulthood.

The species was once widespread in eastern Asia, but large-scale exports and the destruction of its forest habitat have reduced populations in eastern Russia and in China to below 1,000 pairs in each country; Japan, however, is thought to still hold some 5,000 pairs.

Specimens frequently escape from collections, and in the 20th century a feral population numbering about 1,000 pairs was established in Great Britain. Although this is of great conservational significance, the birds are not protected in the UK since the species is not native there. There is also a free-flying feral population of several hundred mandarins in Sonoma County, California. This population is the result of several mandarin ducks escaping from captivity, then going on to reproduce in the wild.

In the wild, Mandarin Ducks breed in densely wooded areas near shallow lakes, marshes or ponds. They nest in cavities in trees close to water and during the spring, the females lay their eggs in the tree's cavity after mating. The males take no part in the incubation, simply leaving the female to secure the eggs on her own. However, unlike other species of ducks, the male does not completely abandon the female, leaving only temporarily until the ducklings have hatched. Shortly after the ducklings hatch, their mother flies to the ground and coaxes the ducklings to leap from the nest. After all of the ducklings are out of the tree, they will follow their mother to a nearby body of water where they would usually encounter the father, who will rejoin the family and protect the ducklings with the mother. If the father isn't found then it is likely that he may have deceased during his temporary leave. The Asian populations are migratory, overwintering in lowland eastern China and southern Japan.

Mandarins feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat plants and seeds, especially beechmast. They feed mainly near dawn or dusk, perching in trees or on the ground during the day.

Mandarins may form small flocks in winter.

Mandarin Ducks, which are referred to by the Chinese as Yuan-yang and yang respectively stand for male and female Mandarin Ducks.

In the eyes of ancient Chinese, Mandarin Ducks form a life-time couple, unlike many other species of ducks. Hence they are frequently featured in Oriental art and are regarded as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity.

A Chinese proverb for loving couples uses the Mandarin Duck as a metaphor: "Two mandarin ducks playing in water". The Mandarin Duck symbol is also used in Chinese weddings, because in traditional Chinese lore they symbolize wedded bliss and fidelity.

Photo by Craig at Busch Gardens Tampa

Thanks for playing,

Craig Glenn


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Yipee!! I win!! I TOLD you it was the feathers of those can-can girls. Where do you think they get their feathers from?


What did you do with his other leg Craig? Or was it Scot?

KaHolly said...

Ahh, yes, of course. Now that you've identified it, it is obvious. I feel dumb. Not gifted with a quick wit or sense of humor, I was reluctant to leave a message! Enjoyed learning more about this beautiful duck! ~karen

scot said...

You are so in trouble!! You know, I am just tempted to take my vast knowledge elsewhere.
I could be persuaded to not make that call to mama, it will cost you a nice cold beer though.

Sandi McBride said...

What a beautiful picture and a colorful reminder that all ducks don't look like the Aflack duck! I love seeing wood duck boxes in the ponds around here and remember my grandfather putting his up on the Mill Pond! I'm going to have to take a picture of the ones we now care for and refurbish for their homes! Lovely work!

naturalistguy said...

Craig, great article on Mandarins, and thanks for the mention!