The Mandarin Duck male has to be the most beautiful waterfowl
Native to the temperate regions of asia, they have become a "relocated native"
in many parts of the U.S. over the years. We see them quite frequently in
our area sharing the waterways with their North American cousin the Wood Duck.
Their size, diet and nesting habits are quite similar to the Wood Duck as a matter of
fact. Regardless of their diminutive size, they can be quite aggressive with other
waterfowl especially in their breeding season which spans the months of early spring
to early summer in this part of Florida. When wooing the hen, the male makes a
curious croaking sound quite similar to the sound a large bull-frog makes!
As you can see from this picture...
the hen is quite drab which is essential to her
success in hiding while sitting on eggs. Though
our Mandarin hens prefer to nest in Wood Duck
boxes that we have provided for them; hens in the
wild may elect to nest in tree cavities or even on
the ground in heavy brush along the waterways.
It is not uncommon for a hen to have more
than one clutch of babies in a season.
The hen pulls down from her body to help line
and insulate the nest. I like to add cedar shavings to
give her a little litter in the bottom of the box. These
shavings not only help protect the first eggs she lays
from breaking, but the cedar seems to help keep mites
or lice from infesting the box while she secretly sits on
her nest. Clutches of this size are not uncommon.
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