Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) is a small-sized bird belonging to the genus of forest ducks and the family of ducks. The mandarin duck was widespread in the Far East, but this species was also very successfully acclimatized in Ireland, California and Ireland. The obsolete name for the Mandarin duck is "Chinese duck" or "Mandarin duck."
Description of Mandarin Duck
Mandarin duck is a small-sized duck with an average weight in the range of 0.4-0.7 kg. The average wing length of an adult mature tangerine is about 21.0-24.5 cm. Of particular interest is the very bright and beautiful mating outfit of the males, as well as the presence of a well-colored crest on the head.
Absolutely fair is the fact that the mandarin duck - this is the most beautiful and brightest duck of all existing now. This representative of the Duck family stands out against the background of ordinary forest ducks. Especially striking are the drakes, which have an unusually beautiful plumage, which is a contrast to the restrained and mundane colors in the wild. Males possess feathers of almost all colors and shades of the rainbow, so this bird has become incredibly popular and widespread in China. Females are not as bright as drakes. They have a very natural, but not at all "flashy", modest and quite attractive appearance. Among other things, imperceptible plumage is used by an adult bird to mask during breeding and breeding offspring.
In males, with all the variety of shades in the plumage coloring, the colors do not merge at all and do not mix at all, but have fairly clear, very pronounced borders. A complement to this beauty is represented by a bright red beak and orange limbs. The back of the female is colored in various brownish shades, while the head area has a smoky gray color, and the entire lower part is represented by white tones. Between colors and shades there is a gradual, very smooth transition. The beak of an adult female is olive in color, and the legs are reddish-orange. On the head of the male and female there is a characteristic, beautiful crest.
It is generally believed that it was thanks to the eccentricity and brightness of the plumage of a mandarin duck that got its very unusual name. In China, Vietnam and Korea, the most respected officials of noble origin were called "Mandarins." The clothes of such wealthy residents were noticeably distinguished from the common people, not only distinguished by their special splendor, but also by their real splendor. The outfit of the tangerine duck males evokes just such associations. According to a less common version, the name "Chinese duck", or "Mandarin duck", was obtained by birds due to the active breeding and keeping in the imperial ponds and reservoirs of the Chinese nobility.
It should be noted that drakes actively molt immediately before the onset of winter frosts, so in the cold season they look ordinary and inconspicuous, which is the reason for the frequent shooting by hunters.
Nature and behavior
A catchy and vibrant appearance is not the only characteristic feature of representatives of the genus forest ducks and the family of ducks. Such a bird, having an original appearance, is capable of making melodic and quite pleasant sounds. The loud and lingering quacking of other duck species contrasts especially with the squeak and whistling of a tangerine. As a rule, not too "talkative" bird does not cease to communicate even during the period of reproduction and rearing of offspring.
The behavioral features of the "Chinese duck" can be attributed to almost vertical take-off, as well as the ability of the bird to perform fairly complex maneuvers. Adult individuals of this species move absolutely freely from one branch to another. A mandarin duck swims well, sitting high in the water and visibly raising its tail. However, such a duck does not like to dive too much, therefore it prefers to sink under water only in case of emergency, including getting a serious injury or a danger to life.
Mandarin duck is a shy and incredulous bird, but over time it can get used to people and easily make contact with a person, becoming an absolutely tame feathered pet.
Lifestyle and lifespan
Most often, the "Chinese duck" settles in close proximity to the mountain rivers flowing next to the vast forest zones. The ideal conditions for the life of a mandarin duck are massive trees with numerous branches bending over the surface of the water. Mountain forests with flowing, fairly deep and wide rivers are also very suitable for the life of such a bird.
A mandarin duck can swim very well, but often sits on rocks near water or on tree branches. Hunting for tangerines is currently prohibited at the legislative level, and, among other things, the bird was listed in the Red Book of our country as a rare species. To date, tangerines are quite actively bred in park areas as decorative and relatively unpretentious birds, whose life expectancy is about a quarter of a century.
Under natural conditions, the average life expectancy of a mandarin duck rarely exceeds ten years, and at home, such representatives of the genus of forest ducks and the duck family are able to live a little longer, due to the absence of predators and timely prevention of certain diseases.
Range, habitats of tangerines
The native distribution area of the mandarin duck and the places of mass habitat of such representatives of the genus of forest ducks is located in the countries of East Asia. In our country, birds with incredibly beautiful plumage nest mainly in the Sakhalin and Amur regions, as well as in the Khabarovsk and Primorsky Territories. A small number of individuals of this species arranged nesting on Shikotan, where the development of anthropogenic landscapes took place.
In the northern part of the range, mandarin ducks are classified as not very common and migratory birds. The territory of Russia as adults and young animals, as a rule, leaves in the last ten days of September. Birds go for winter to warm countries such as China and Japan. According to studies, the territory of the DPRK at the end of the last century was not massively inhabited by wild mandarins, but some individuals nested there irregularly during a long flight.
Diet, what a mandarin duck eats
The standard diet of tangerines directly depends on where the nesting site of the representative of the genus Ducks is located. Formed pairs of such ducks prefer to settle in the most protected places with abundant vegetation and ponds, so the seeds of all kinds of plants, including aquatic species, often become the basis of nutrition.
A feature of the mandarin duck is also the fact that such birds love acorns very much, containing a huge number of various useful substances. Due to the relatively close location of the aquatic environment, the "Chinese duck" can diversify its not too rich plant diet with protein foods represented by mollusks, caviar of all kinds of fish and a variety of medium-sized river inhabitants. With great pleasure, mandarin ducks use all kinds of aquatic and terrestrial vegetation, as well as worms.
In conditions of artificial breeding, the diet of an adult mandarin duck is most often represented by crops such as wheat, barley, corn, rice and other cereals, as well as minced meat and fish.
Breeding and offspring
The mating season of mandarin ducks falls in mid-spring, around the end of March and April. Mature males at this time are able to very actively fight among themselves in order to attract the attention of females. All couples formed during the mating season are very persistent, persisting throughout the life of the "Chinese duck." If one of the partners in such an established pair dies, then the other birds will never look for a replacement for him. After the mating process, the female mandarin duck settles in a nest, which can be located both in the hollow of the tree and directly on the ground. In the process of selecting a nest, the male tirelessly follows the female.
After a place is found suitable for arranging the nest, seven to twelve eggs are laid by the duck. Mandarin ducks begin to masonry, as a rule, with the onset of steady heat, around the end of April. The female of the “Chinese duck” is responsible for the process of hatching the offspring on its own, and the male during this period gets food that he brings to his duck. On average, the hatching process lasts about a month. After a few days, the chicks that were born become independent enough to jump out of their nest.
In order to acquire skills, the female and male take the brood to a reservoir or to the places of the main feeding. Along with other waterfowl, mandarin ducklings can very easily and freely stay on the surface of the water from the very first day after their birth. In case of even the slightest danger, the entire brood and mother duck quickly hide in fairly thickets. In this case, the drake often distracts the enemies, which allows the whole family to be saved.
Ducklings grow, as a rule, quickly, therefore they become adults by the age of one and a half months. By this time, young “Chinese ducks” had already mastered such skills as flying and finding food, so the youngsters calmly left their parental nest. The same period is characterized by a change in the drake of the mandarin plumage to a completely plain-looking outfit. Then young males form separate flocks. At the beginning of autumn, molting ends, so the tangerine males again acquire a bright and elegant appearance. Mandarin ducks become completely mature in the first year of their life, but at this age, ducks are characterized by lower reproductive potential compared with mature adults.
It is in the fall that birds from the coldest and most uncomfortable regions for a thermophilic species fly to warmer climes in order to return to their nesting sites with the onset of next spring.
The reduction in the number of mandarin ducks inhabiting and nesting in our country is particularly affected by unauthorized hunting. Some relatively large predatory animals or birds also have an extremely negative effect on the number of individuals. Shooting of ducks is carried out, as a rule, after the males change their mandarin ducks.
The raccoon dog belongs to the category of the most frequent natural enemies that threaten the mandarin duck. This predatory animal actively hunts chicks, but it is also a serious threat to already mature, fully adult birds and eggs. On water, increased danger can come from the otter and large enough birds of prey. Among other things, a nest made by a mandarin duck in a hollow of a tree can be easily ruined by adult squirrels.
Mandarin duck is a heat-loving bird, therefore temperatures below 5 ° C are extremely dangerous for its life and health, and the smallest ducklings quite often die even with a relatively long absence of summer heat.
When breeding mandarin ducks at home, it is necessary to highlight a separate, small-sized aviary with a small pond. With an aviary height of 200 cm, it is necessary to install several convenient nests inside:
- height - 52 cm;
- length - 40 cm;
- width - 40 cm;
- with an inlet - 12 × 12 cm.
It is allowed to replace traditional bird nests with typical hollows, hung and fixed at a height of 70-80 cm. Many females hatch on their own, but in some cases it is advisable to use an incubator or receiving hen for this purpose. It should be noted that mandarin ducklings are unstable to stressful situations and extremely shy, so it can be difficult to grow them yourself.
Particular attention is required by the independent preparation of a feeding ration for birds:
- grain feeds can be represented by corn, wheat, barley, millet and oats;
- the diet should be supplemented with wheat bran, soy and sunflower meal;
- to maintain health, meat and bone, fish and grass meal, chalk, gammarus and crushed shells are added to the feed;
- in the summer, food is supplemented with well-chopped dandelion, lettuce, plantain and duckweed;
- with the onset of autumn, it is advisable to add acorns and grated carrots to the feed;
- during molting and breeding, the basis of the diet should be represented by bran, as well as various cereals with the addition of fish and minced meat;
- it is necessary to adjust the total volume of crude protein, which should not be more than 18-19%, which will prevent the development of feathered uric acid diathesis.
So, as observations show, adult mandarin ducks are relatively simple to maintain, and are also very suitable for placement in species mixed collections. In summer, open-air cages will be ideal for such a bird, and in the winter, it is necessary to equip an artificial pond with regularly replaced, clean water. Poultry should be purchased only in reliable and trusted nurseries that have their own farm for breeding such a unique and very beautiful bird.