It is a beautiful bird, with incredibly bright plumage. I must confess that this image really does not do it justice. It is one of two species in the genus Aix, the other being the North American Wood Duck.
My journey to becoming a duck expert has led me to discover that this duck is quite unusual in its family habits. While most drakes, after mating, will leave the duck to both incubate the eggs and guard the nest, the Mandarin drake will return to the family once the ducklings have hatched. The drake shares in the duties of feeding the young, as well as protecting them.
Native to eastern Asia including Russia and China, the Mandarin has been able to spread across the world, thanks to successful escape form captivity. There are now stable populations in Germany and the UK. I probably shouldn’t say this, but because the Mandarin is not a native species, it isn’t protected by law in the United Kingdom.
For some great photos of my current favourite duck, have a look at the work of Austrian blogger Aristide. Some of them are truly lovely.