One of the world’s most attractive duck species is also one of the oldest. For hundreds of years Mandarin Ducks have been found in the forests of Asia and, in the West, they have been kept and bred for more than 200 years.
The drake is by far the more spectacular bird with a swept back erectile crest on top of its head. The drake’s forehead is greenish black and the crest area is purple with a white splash on the side of the head.The breast is maroon with a base colour of chestnut. Slightly curled wing feathers, known as ‘sails’, sit up along the back and are coloured bright orange. The hen is grey with a small crest.
They are small birds, weighing only 500g which is just about the size of a homing pigeon. Mandarin ducks also have sharp claws on their webbed feet which means they can perch and nest high up in trees in their native state. Captive Mandarin ducks are usually fenced and their wings pinioned (the tip of the wing removed) to prevent them from flying.
A secure enclosure is essential to keep the Mandarin ducks in and keep out potential predators such as
foxes, hawks, crows, and domestic cats and dogs. Pairs usually are allowed a 2m x 2m pen, preferably with a small pond. True enthusiasts will often landscape the enclosures with reeds, grasses and plants to create a natural setting. You may also need an exotic bird licence to keep Mandarin ducks so check with your local wildlife authority before buying any birds. Also check local council regulations.
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