Even if it was announced by the local newspaper here in Stavanger it was a pleasant surprise to see this little feathered guy swimming in one of our local lakes yesterday. It is not a native bird this far north, so it is probably an escapee from a private collection. The Mandarin duck naturally belongs in East Asia, China, Japan and East Russia along rivers and lakes in densely wooded areas. Destruction of habitats has reduced populations in Russia and China.
They nest in cavities in trees where the female lay her eggs after mating. The male takes no part in the incubation, and leaves the female to secure the eggs on her own. However it will return as soon as the ducklings has hatched and protect the ducklings with the mother. This special behaviour has made the Mandarin duck to a symbol in Chinese weddings representing wedded bliss and fidelity.
The adult male is a striking and unmistakable bird, while the female is more anynomous.
I hope this guy has a wife in the woods nearby, but it is not likely. However, since there is already more than 7000 mandarin ducks in the UK it may not be long before we will find small Mandarin ducklings here as well.
UPDATE June 2012; no new observations of the duck yet, hopefully it has found it’s way to new warmer places.