Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) swimming on liquid gold, Parc du Rouge-Cloître, Brussels by Frank.Vassen

I have no idea where the name Mandarin Duck comes from. The information seems to be nowhere to be found but provides for some very probably inaccurate ideas. The most noticeable thing about Mandarin Ducks is of course their plumage. To be exact, the gorgeous plumage actually belongs to the male and even more specifically to the male during mating season. Although they mostly live in China, they can also be found in Japan and Russia. They aren’t really hunted for food although sometimes hunters will accidentally mistake them for Wood Ducks. They are however sometimes poached for their plumage and for pets.

The cool thing about Mandarin Ducks, as it is with so many other species, is the way humans interact with them. In China they are considered a symbol of marital bliss. This seems to be mostly because unlike all other ducks the males stay with the female and the chicks until they are grown. In fact, in “ancient” China (I couldn’t find any reference to a specific dynasty) it was apparently custom to give a mated couple of Mandarin Ducks at weddings to ensure a happy marriage.

Mandarin Duck – Washington DC National Zoo by Glyn Lowe Photoworks