Painting

Mandarin Duck

The mandarin duck is an incredibly colourful duck species found in East Asia. The adult male has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and “whiskers”. The male’s breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, and he has two orange “sails” at the back (large feathers that stick up like boat sails).

In traditional Chinese culture, mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of ducks. Hence they are regarded as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity, and are frequently featured in Chinese art. A Chinese proverb for loving couples uses the mandarin duck as a metaphor: “Two mandarin ducks playing in water.”

The Mandarin Duck nests in holes in trees, sometimes high up and a long way from the water. Shortly after the ducklings hatch, the female flies down and tries to coax the young to jump from the nest. Once they have left the tree and made their way back to water, the father will return to the family and help to protect the ducklings.


Introduced from China, the Mandarin Duck can be found on park lakes and other wetlands with overhanging trees, mainly in South East England, but also in North England, Wales and Scotland.

I fantasise and idealise myself as Bugs Bunny,

but I know deep down I’m Daffy Duck.

Patton Oswalt
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