Mandarin Duck

1/1000s at f8.0, ISO:800, Canon EOS-1D X w/EF400mm f/4 DO IS USM

The Mandarin Duck is a medium-sized, East Asian perching duck closely related to the North American Wood Duck. 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. 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. A single clutch of nine to twelve eggs is laid. Although the male may defend the female during incubation, he himself does not incubate the eggs and leaves before they hatch. 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. The Asian populations are migratory, over wintering in lowland eastern China and southern Japan. Mandarins feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat plants and seeds, especially beech mast. The species will also add snails, insects and small fish to its diet.
Prospect Park, Colorado