Unraveling Nature’s Masterpiece: The Allure of Another World’s Most Beautiful Bird


With his striking, multi-hued, rainbow-like, technicolor dream suit of color, this duck truly is not like any other!


“Mandarin Duck” by Mike’s Birds is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The mandarin duck (Aix galericulata), is a perching duck species native to the East Palearctic region. And all of you bird lovers in North America will be excited to hear that this special duck has been spotted once more in Canada. This duck, rated as one of the most winsome, picturesque, and beautiful birds in the world is native to China and Japan making this discovery that much more special.

“Mandarin Duck” by thecrypt is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

One of Canada’s most “famous” Mandarin ducks, Trevor, can be found in British Colombia. He constantly moves between Burnaby Lak and Deer Lake, both of which are found in suburban Vancouver.

Trevor became famous in 2018 when spotted hanging out with some mallards native to the region.

Photo Courtesy of Art G. / CC BY 2.0

Mandarin ducks were first introduced to the west in the 20th century, however, some escaped and started their own feral colony. As you can see the male is a striking bird no matter what angle you view him from. He has a red bill with a white crescent above his eyes and a red face with “whiskers.” His breast is purple with two verticle white bars and ruddy-colored almost bronze-looking flanks. He has two orange “sails” on his back (large feathers that stick up like boat sails).

Photo Courtesy of Malcolm Carlaw / CC BY 2.0

In contrast, the female has a white-rimmed eye with a stripe running almost behind her head. She also has a small white flank stripe and a pale tip to her bill.

Photo Courtesy of © Francis C. Franklin / CC BY-SA 3.0

There is always a chance you might see one in North America, but it is very rare to do so. The reason Trevor went viral is because of his rarity. Mandarin ducks don’t have any predators in western countries, so when they became established there were concerns they might become invasive.

Photo Courtesy of London looks / CC BY 2.0

Trevor isn’t the only Mandarin duck to make a splash. In 2018, another male Mandarin made a name for himself when he was spotted in Central Park. Affectionately named Mandarin Patinkin after Broadway actor Mandy Patinkin, he caused a sensation and was named “New York’s Most Eligible Bachelor” by New York Magazine’s The Cut. This caused the bird to also get the nickname “Hot Duck.” Bird lovers watched his every movement as he also visited Brooklyn and New Jersey.

“Mandarin duck” by Bernard Spragg is marked with CC0 1.0.

Though Mandarin Patinkin was banded, his origins were unknown and he ended up disappearing just as mysteriously as he appeared. His last sighting was in March 2019. While the enthusiasm for these exotic Mandarins is understandable, there is another side to consider. These animals are not native and are most likely escaped domestic pets. This is particularly true of the Central Park duck, which had a band.

“Mandarin Duck” by markyharky is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

In fact, the only Mandarin duck colonies that exist in North America—the largest is in northern California—were formed by escaped or released domestic ducks. The danger with this is that these non-native species can sometimes become invasive. As they don’t have any natural predators in the ecosystem they’re dropped into, they can quickly spiral out of control and overrun local wildlife. This is why there are strict controls on the ownership and release of exotic animals. In fact, the reason why no one stepped forward to claim the Central Park duck is probably because it’s actually illegal to own these animals as pets in the city.

Photo Courtesy of Art G. / CC BY 2.0

So while we can admire their colorful plumage and try to unravel the mystery of where they came from, we should also remember to appreciate the native mallards we already have. Locals are thrilled that “Trevor,” a male Mandarin duck, has been spotted in British Columbia for the third year.

Photo “Mandarin duck face” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.of Instagram/birds_adored

They usually eat plants and seeds but are known to enjoy the odd snail, insect or small fish to their diet, depending on the season. The Mandarins biggest threat is due to habitat loss from logging. They are not currently listed as endangered.

“MANDARIN DUCK” by cuatrok77 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

H/T video.devamiburda.com and Wikipedia – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

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