Mandarins are 41-49 cm long ducks with a 65-75 cm wingspan. The adult male has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face,`whiskers. The breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange `sails` at the back. The female is similar to female Wood Duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill. Their ducklings can be distinguished from Mallard ducklings in that the eye-stripe of Mandarin ducklings (and Wood ducklings) stops at the eye, while in Mallard ducklings it reaches all the way to the bill.
Habitat and Distribution
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. Their breeding habitat is densely wooded areas near shallow lakes, marshes or ponds.
They feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat plants and seeds, such as beechmast. The species will also add snails, insects and small fish to its diet. In the fall and winter, they mostly eat acorns and grains.
The Mandarin ducks 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 in April or May. Although the male may defend the brooding female and his eggs during incubation, he himself does not incubate the eggs and leaves before they hatch.