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Aves > Anseriformes > Anatidae > Aix

Aix galericulata (Linnaeus, 1758) – Mandarin Duck

Taxonomic Notes:

Old Taxonomy: Anas galericulata Linnaeus, 1758


Breeding season: 
April-June, mostly extralimital (E. Asia). 

Nest: Natural tree hollows lined with grasses. Prefers the trees present along the forest streams.

Eggs: Clutch of 7–14 white or buff colour eggs. 49 x 36.5 mm in size.

Indian and global distribution:
records (based on images):

41–51 cm.

Distinguishing characters:

Male (breeding): A multi-coloured, little duck - orange-buff, metallic bronzy and coppery blue, green, purple, cinnamon, and chestnut. Sides of face greyish buff, bill red with flesh-pink nail, legs and feet orange-buff and eyes dark brown with yellowish outer ring. Lower neck and sides of breast purple-copper.

Male (eclipse): More or less like female, but glossier. Bill remains reddish and legs yellow.

Female: About, head and mop-like crest grey, with a white ring round eye continued as a streak behind it. Rest of upperparts olive brown. Blue-green wing margined with black and white. Chin, throat, and upper neck white. Lower neck, breast, sides, and flanks olive-brown broadly mottled paler. Rest of underparts white.

Young/Immature: resembles female, though female has pinkish bill, and young are more uniformly grey-brown with less distinct face markings and less obviously dappled appearance to upper breast and flanks.

Similar Species in India
: No other small duck looks similar. 

Sexual, seasonal & individual variation:

This species is sexually dimorphic. There exists seasonal change in plumage for males too (See Distinguishing Features above). There is no distinguishable individual variation.

Status, Habitat and Habits:

Vagrant to India (NE states), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam Hong Kong;   Resident and breeding population at China, Japan, Korea, Russia. It forms small flocks mainly resticting itself to the streams and lakes in the forested areas. Unlike many other duck species, it frequently perches and roosts on the tall trees. 

Foraging Behaviour: Diet largely include seeds, particularly nuts, acorns, aquatic plants and animal food like land snails, frogs, tadpoles, insects, fish.

Call/Song: Generally quiet, usually vocalizes when disturbed or in courtship. Male calls are mainly sharp, rising whistle-like “hwick” or “uib uib”, whereas female has a loud, sharp, single-noted “kett” or “ke” call, which might easily be mistaken for a Common Coot.

Migration Status: Resident.

IUCN Status: Least Concern. 


1. Rasmussen, P. C., and J. C. Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Washington, DC.

2. Ali, S., and S. D. Ripley. 1968. Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan: Together with those of Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Ceylon (Vol. 1). Oxford University Press.

3. Stuart Baker, E. C. 1933. The Nidification of Birds of the Indian Empire. Taylor And Francis.
4. BirdLife International. 2018. Aix galericulataThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22680107A131911544.

Aves > Anseriformes > Anatidae > Aix

Cite this page along with its URL as:
Satose, V., and A. Bayani. 2023. Aix galericulata (Linnaeus, 1758) – Mandarin Duck. Satose, V., A. Bayani, V. Ramachandran, P. Roy, and K. Kunte (Chief Editors). Birds of India, v. 2.17. Indian Foundation for Butterflies.
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