2251. Aix galericulata

(2251) Aix galericulata.

The Mandarin-Duck.

Anas galericulata Linn., Syst. Nat, 10th ed., i, p. 1288 (1758).

Vernacular names. None recorded.

Description. - Adult male. Supercilium from the base of the bill to the end of the crest pure white ; forehead to nape glossy-green, thence the long thick crest is metallic-purple, more or less mixed with green on the basal half and either entirely green on the terminal third or sometimes shot with deep blue; face and sides of the head buff, shading into white round the eye and into cinnamon-red on the posterior cheeks, chin and throat; the neck-hackles are bright chestnut tipped with purple and with white striae on the anterior portion ; remainder of upper plumage and lesser wing-coverts dull brown glossed with bronzed green, especially on the mantle and upper tail-coverts ; tail grey-brown glossed green ; scapulars grey-brown, the innermost completely glossed with deep blue and the median with green, the change being graded and not clearly defined ; the outermost are white with broad black edges, the innermost secondary, which is enormously broadened into a fan shape, is chestnut on the inner web, tipped paler on the outer half and with blue on the inner; on the outer web of the inner secondaries the tip is chestnut, the remainder deep glossy blue ; other secondaries brown, with the outer web glossed green and tipped white, except the one next the innermost, which is all of this colour; primaries brown, glossed green and with broad edges of silver-grey on the outer webs ; lower neck and sides of breast brilliant purple-copper; sides of lower breast with three bands of black and two of white ; remainder of lower parts white ; flank vermiculated black and brown, with copper bars opposite the vent and with black and white bars at the end of the flank-feathers; axillaries brown; under wing-coverts mixed brown and grey.

In one specimen in the British Museum the whole chin, and in another the border of the angle of the chin, is white.

Colours of soft parts. " Iris dark brown with a yellowish-white outer ring ; bill reddish-brown with the nail bluish flesh-coloured; tarsus and toes reddish-yellow ; membranes blackish." (Schrenk.)

Measurements. Wing 223 to 240 mm.; tail 108 to 122 mm.; culmen 27 to 31 ram.; tarsus 33 to 36 mm.

Adult female. Head and full crest grey, a narrow line starting above the eye and passing round the front to the back and border¬ing the crown white; sides of the head pale grey, grading into the white of the chin, throat and upper neck ; the face is sometimes mostly white and sometimes wholly grey, whilst at other times there is a broad or narrow band of white next the bill; whole remaining upper parts and wing-coverts brown, more or less tinged with grey or olive-grey; lower neck, breast, sides and flanks the same colour as the back, each feather with a pale spot near the tip, these being very large on the flanks ; remainder of lower parts white; primaries brown, slightly glossed green and broadly tipped white, two of the inner secondaries forming a deep blue-green speculum, submargined black and margined white; innermost secondaries the same colour as the back.

As with other Ducks with white underparts, these are often more or less tinged with rusty.

Colours of soft parts. As in the male.

Measurements. Wing 170 to 194 mm.; culmen 26 to 30 mm.

The male in post-nuptial plumage resembles the female, but the latter, as Oates points out, may be separated from males . . . by the oblique white stripe which may always be found on the outer web of the first purple feather of the speculum. This stripe is just below the tips of the wing-coverts and is always absent in the male."

The young male in first plumage also resembles the female, with the exception just noted; it is, however, generally rather bigger and often more clearly coloured.

Amongst the first indications of sex plumage assumed by the young male is the deepening of the plumage of the breast and upper neck.

Nestling. Above hair-brown, the edge of the wing pale buff; two indefinite bars of the same colour on the sides, one in front and one behind the thigh ; underparts wholly pale buff; a dark brown streak running from behind the eye to the neck and another from behind the ear-coverts.

Distribution. The Mandarin is a purely Eastern Asiatic Duck, being distributed throughout Central and Southern China, .Formosa and Japan; Amoorland only during the breeding-season. It has also been obtained in Corea and once in Lakhimpur, Assam, by Stevens, where also six birds were seen by myself, though none were obtained. A so-called Marbled Duck shot by a planter in the same district was probably also of this species.

Nidification. This beautiful little Duck breeds in Northern China during May and June, laying its eggs in holes in trees on the banks of small streams which run through forests or well-wooded country. As might be expected of a Northern breeding Duck, the eggs are laid in a nest of grass and rubbish of all sorts well lined with thick down. The eggs are a pale fawn with a distinct gloss. Eighteen eggs of wild birds average 48.8 x 36.3 mm.: maxima 53.0 X 39.2 mm.; minima 46.0 X 34.1 mm.

Habits. The Mandarin-Duck frequents small streams and ponds in well-wooded country, associating in small flocks of about a dozen. Those in cultivated land and near towns and villages become extremely tame, whilst those in more remote districts are exceptionally wild and wary. They swim well but dive very little, fly strongly and can walk well.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.6 1929.
Title in Book: 
2251. Aix galericulata
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Mandarin Duck
Mandarin Duck
Aix galericulata
Vol. 6
Term name: 

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith