Hagerman NWR:  Missing the Northern Shovelers (and Other Winter Migrants)

Hagerman NWR:  Missing the Northern Shovelers and Other Winter Migrants

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1
NORTHERN SHOVELER pair   (Wikipedia photo credit)

Recently I visited Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge (near Sherman, Texas — bordering Lake Texoma), hoping to see a lot of migratory birds, especially geese and ducks who visit wetlands for overwintering or for quick stopovers.  Compared to prior visits, it was a major disappointment.  Even the visitors center was locked, closed to visitors (with a posted sign claiming pandemic dangers as the excuse for the closure).

Possibly due to a year of drought, many of the large ponds were shrunken (leaving half-dried mud basins), demonstrating that water is the key ingredient for wetland habitats.  The winter wheat was mostly consumed, so the population of snow geese was minimal.  Dozens and scores of snow geese could be seen, but not the usual hundreds or thousands. An occasional Great Blue Heron could be seen. Meanwhile the oil pumps (“horseheads”) quietly pumped. Even the few ducks seemed bored.

The Northern Pintail ducks were few and far between.  And, worse, I saw no Northern Shoveler ducks at all. Likewise, I don’t recall seeing the usual Green-winged Teals. Those shallow drought-dried wetlands must have been unattractive to most of the avian winter visitors, such as migratory ducks and geese. 

HAGERMAN NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, near Sherman, Texas (10,000 Birds photo credit)

So maybe this limerick can express my birding disappointment, that day, at Hagerman NWR:


Hagerman’s a refuge of peace,

Fit for migrating ducks and geese;

Yet no shovelers were seen,

Nor teals with wings green —

Just some pintails, and a few geese.

[JJSJ, AD2022-01-19]

Oh well, goodbye — maybe next winter will be better, for viewing winter migrants at Hagerman NWR.

NORTHERN SHOVELER male in freshwater   (Steve Sinclair photo credit)

Far Flying Ducks and Their Allies

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks forming V by Lee

I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

“Who are these who fly like a cloud, And like doves to their roosts?” (Isaiah 60:8 NKJV)

Yep! That’s what they have been doing. Flying right off the pages. I am still working away trying to fix my broken links. It is time consuming, but maybe the new reworked Bird Family pages will be easier to work with.

As you know, from the last few posts, I have been fixing missing birds, photographers, songs, etc:

Mallard Duck army marching (I know it’s not a King, but it’s cute) ©WikiC

Today, a decision was made to rework ALL the Family Bird Pages. Hopefully, all of the pages listed below are error free. [Famous Last Words] These are in the new format. I wasn’t doing too bad until the Ducks pages were checked. 131 of them had taken off. Whew! I think most of them came back safely, especially because the hunters are out and about. The PLAN is to continue through the family pages one at a time. If you should find any escaped birds, would you try to SHOO them back this way??

Updated Family Pages

Stay Tuned!

Tickle Me Tuesday – Birds and Ice

Geese on Ice ©Pixabay

Geese on Ice ©Pixabay

He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? (Psalms 147:17KJV)”From the breath of God ice is made, And the expanse of the waters is frozen. (Job 37:10 NASB)

Still laughing as I am typing this blog. Remembered a video several years back of birds landing on ice. I found it and two more. Trust you enjoy them and get a good chuckle for the day.

Landing on Ice

Penguin slips and falls – makes a funny sound

Penguins on an iceberg (funny)

On a more serious note, I found this article about how birds can die from the ice. It can trap them or cause them to not be able to take off.

Not Spring-like Yet – Ducks and the Ice, Oh My!


More Tickle Me Tuesdays:

Tickle Me Tuesday – For the Birds

Tickle Me Tuesday – Bird of Paradise

Tickle Me Tuesday – Top Funny Bird Video

Tickle Me Tuesday,” Challenge by Sandra Connor

Wordless Birds



Birds Vol 2 #1 – The Canvas-back Duck

The Canvasback Duck, Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

The Canvasback Duck, Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897



HITE-BACK, Canard Cheval, (New Orleans,) Bull-Neck, and Red-Headed Bull-Neck, are common names of the famous Canvas-Back, which nests from the northern states, northward to Alaska. Its range is throughout nearly all of North America, wintering from the Chesapeake southward to Guatemala.

“The biography of this duck,” says Mabel Osgood Wright, “belongs rather to the cook-book than to a bird list,” even its most learned biographers referring mainly to its “eatable qualities,” Dr. Coues even taking away its character in that respect when he says “there is little reason for squealing in barbaric joy over this over-rated and generally under-done bird; not one person in ten thousand can tell it from any other duck on the table, and only then under the celery circumstances,” referring to the particular flavor of its flesh, when at certain seasons it feeds on vallisneria, or “water celery,” which won its fame. This is really not celery at all, but an eel-grass, not always found through the range of the Canvas-Back. When this is scarce it eats frogs, lizards, tadpoles, fish, etc., so that, says Mrs. Osgood, “a certificate of residence should be sold with every pair, to insure the inspiring flavor.”

The opinion held as to the edible qualities of this species varies greatly in different parts of the country. No where has it so high a reputation as in the vicinity of Chesapeake Bay, where the alleged superiority of its flesh is ascribed to the abundance of “water celery.” That this notion is erroneous is evident from the fact that the same plant grows in far more abundance in the upper Mississippi Valley, where also the Canvas-Back feeds on it. Hence it is highly probable that fashion and imagination, or perhaps a superior style of cooking and serving, play a very important part in the case. In California, however, where the “water celery” does not grow, the Canvas-Back is considered a very inferior bird for the table.

It has been hunted on Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries with such inconsiderate greed that its numbers have been greatly reduced, and many have been driven to more southern waters.

In and about Baltimore, the Canvas-Back, like the famous terrapin, is in as high favor for his culinary excellence, as are the women for beauty and hospitality. To gratify the healthy appetite of the human animal this bird was doubtless sent by a kind Providence, none the less mindful of the creature comforts and necessities of mankind than of the purely aesthetic senses.


CANVAS-BACK.Aythya vallisneria. Other names: “White-Back,” “Bull-Neck,” “Red-Headed Bull-Neck.”

Range—North America. Breeds only in the interior, from northwestern states to the Arctic circle; south in winter to Guatemala.

Nest—On the ground, in marshy lakesides.

Eggs—Six to ten; buffy white, with bluish tinge.

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) by Daves BirdingPix

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) by Daves BirdingPix

Lee’s Addition:

The Canvas-Back Duck is now the Canvasback (Aythya valisineria). Wikipedia (with editing) says The Canvasback is the largest of the North American diving ducks, that ranges from between 19–22 in (48–56 centimetres) long and weighs approximately 1.90–3.50 lbs (862–1,588 gram), with a wingspan of 31–35 in (79–89 centimetres). The canvasback has a distinctive wedge-shaped head and long graceful neck. The adult male (drake) has a black bill, a chestnut red head and neck, a black breast, a grayish back, black rump, and a blackish brown tail. The drake’s sides, back, and belly are white with fine vermiculation resembling the weave of a canvas, which gave rise to the bird’s common name. The bill is blackish and the legs and feet are bluish-gray. The iris is bright red in the spring, but duller in the winter. The adult female (hen) also has a black bill, a light brown head and neck, grading into a darker brown chest and foreback. The sides, flanks, and back are grayish brown. The bill is blackish and the legs and feet are bluish-gray. Its sloping profile distinguishes it from other ducks.

The breeding habitat of the Canvasback is in North America prairie potholes. The bulky nest is built from vegetation in a marsh and lined with down. Loss of nesting habitat has caused populations to decline. (That and apparently the killing of them per the article.) It prefers to nest over water on permanent prairie marshes surrounded by emergent vegetation, such as cattail and bulrushes, which provide protective cover. Other important breeding areas are the subarctic river deltas in Saskatchewan and the interior of Alaska.

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) with young ©WikiC

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) with young ©WikiC

It has a clutch size of approximately 5-11 eggs that are a greenish drab. The chicks are covered in down at hatching and able to leave the nest soon after. The Canvasback sometimes lays its eggs in other Canvasback nests and Redheads often parasitize Canvasback nests.

In the early 1950s it was estimated that there were 225,000 Canvasbacks wintering in the Chesapeake Bay; this represented one-half of the entire North American population. By 1985, there were only 50,000 ducks wintering there, or one-tenth of the population. Canvasbacks were extensively hunted around the turn of the 19th to 20th century, but federal hunting regulations restrict their harvest, so hunting was ruled out as a cause for the decline. Scientists have now concluded that the decline in duck populations was due to the decline in  submerged aquatic vegetation acreage. Today the population has stabilized and is even increasing slightly, although it is nowhere near previous levels.


Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Wood Duck

Previous Article – Bird Song – July

Wordless Birds


Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans Family

Canvasback – Wikipedia


True Duck Story – From an e-Mail

I received this from a friend and it was too good not to share.

This is a really neat story.

True duck story – San Antonio , Texas – Bravo something really cute happened this week. Michael R. Is an accounting clerk at Frost Bank and works there in a second story office. Several weeks ago, he watched a mother duck choose the concrete awning outside his window as the unlikely place to build a nest above the sidewalk. The mallard laid ten eggs in a nest in the corner of the planter that is perched over 10 feet in the air. She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks, and Monday afternoon all of her ten ducklings hatched.

Duck Story 1

Michael worried all night how the momma duck was going to get those babies safely off their perch in a busy, downtown, urban environment to take to water, which typically happens in the first 48 hours of a duck hatching. Tuesday morning, Michael watched the mother duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off. Office work came to a standstill as everyone gathered to watch.

The mother flew down below and started quacking to her babies above. In disbelief Michael watched as the first fuzzy newborn trustingly toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below. Michael couldn’t stand to watch this risky effort nine more times! He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs to the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling, near its mother, was resting in a stupor after the near-fatal fall. Michael stood out of sight under the awning-planter, ready to help.

As the second one took the plunge, Michael jumped forward and caught it with his bare hands before it hit the concrete. Safe and sound, he set it down it by its momma and the other stunned sibling, still recovering from that painful leap. (The momma must have sensed that Michael was trying to help her babies.)

One by one the babies continued to jump.. Each time Michael hid under the awning just to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its free fall. At the scene the busy downtown sidewalk traffic came to a standstill. Time after time, Michael was able to catch the remaining eight and set them by their approving mother.

At this point Michael realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had two full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs and past pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the San Antonio River , site of the famed “River Walk.” The onlooking office secretaries and several San Antonio police officers joined in. An empty copy-paper box was brought to collect the babies. They carefully corralled them, with the mother’s approval, and loaded them in the container.. Michael held the box low enough for the mom to see her Brood. He then slowly navigated through the downtown streets toward the San Antonio River . The mother waddled behind and kept her babies in sight, all the way.

As they reached the river, the mother took over and passed him, jumping in the river and quacking loudly. At the water’s edge, Michael tipped the box and helped shepherd the babies toward the water and to the waiting mother after their adventurous ride.

All ten darling ducklings safely made it into the water and paddled up snugly to momma. Michael said the mom swam in circles, looking back toward the beaming bank bookkeeper, and proudly quacking.

At last, all present and accounted for: “We’re all together again. We’re here! We’re here!”

And here’s a family portrait before they head outward to further adventures….

Like all of us in the big times of our life, they never could have made it alone without lots of helping hands. I think it gives the name of San Antonio ‘s famous “River Walk” a whole new meaning! Maybe you will want to share this story with others. It’s too good to lose! Live honestly, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly & Leave the rest to God.

Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia – Wow! – II

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) by Dan at Zoo Miami

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) by Dan at Zoo Miami

In Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia – Wow! – I our trip their was introduced. Now to continue with our adventure there. I am still sorting photos, but I have most of the water birds figured out.

First, here are two quotes about the aviary from Zoo Miami’s website. “Brilliantly colored pheasants, hornbills, pigeons and many other birds show off their shimmering, iridescent plumage in a large, lush free-flight enclosure that provides them with unencumbered flight. Tiny and large birds swoop overhead, perch on branches and even strut and stroll right by visitors. The air is alive with bird activity, beautiful birdsongs, trickling brooks and waterfalls.” They said that so much better than I could, but it is so true.

“The bird collection is quite diverse with rare, colorful species that sing attractive songs and make unusual vocalizations. Some of the birds are cranes, rails, mynahs, parrots, pheasants, thrushes, fruit-pigeons, barbets and woodpeckers. The birds, vastly different in size, range from 10-gram (.35 oz) Japanese white-eyes to 7000-gram (15.4 lb) sarus cranes…  Many of these species are rare in zoo collections, and some can only be seen at Zoo Miami as part of our participation in wildlife conservation breeding initiatives such as the Species Survival Program.”

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) Zoo Miami by Lee

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) Zoo Miami by Lee

Strut some of them do! I’ll save the cranes for another article, but the Ruddy and Raja Shelducks were strolling all around. The Plumed Whistling Duck was checking out the entry door. Maybe looking for a way out or to see if the next visitors were on the way. Why would he want to leave such a fantastic surrounding?

Plumed Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna eytoni) Zoo Miami by Lee

Plumed Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna eytoni) Zoo Miami by Lee

Just in the Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans Family there were 18 species that we were able to see and photograph. In addition there were 6 members of that family we found around the zoo (Amazon & Beyond and Cloud Forrest). Some we have seen previously, but most were ones not seen by us. Here is a list of those with a link to a photo and a slide show at the bottom. I am starting with these because they are the some of the first you encounter when you enter the aviary. By wandering around on the paths you actually arrive at three different heights with different bird species hanging out. More on that later.

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) Zoo Miami by Lee

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) Zoo Miami by Lee

The Bar-headed Goose’s picture was selected because of its behavior. I am featuring it because the Bar-headed Goose is thought to be one of the world’s highest flying birds, having been heard flying across Mount Makalu (the fifth highest mountain on earth at 8,481 metres (27,825 ft)) and apparently seen over Mount Everest (8,848 metres (29,029 ft), although this is a second hand report). This incredibly demanding migration has long puzzled physiologists and naturalists: “there must be a good explanation for why the birds fly to the extreme altitudes […] particularly since there are passes through the Himalaya at lower altitudes, and which are used by other migrating bird species” quoted from Black & Tenney (1980). In fact bar-headed geese is now believed that they do take the high passes through the mountains. The challenging northward migration from lowland India to breed in the summer on the Tibetan Plateau is undertaken in stages, with the flight across the Himalaya (from sea-level) being undertaken non-stop in as little as seven hours. Surprisingly, despite predictable tail winds that blow up the Himalayas (in the same direction of travel as the geese), bar-headed geese spurn these winds, waiting for them to die down overnight, when they then undertake the greatest rates of climbing flight ever recorded for a bird, and sustain these climbs rates for hours on end.

The Bar-headed Goose is known to be well equipped for this incredibly challenging migration. It has a slightly larger wing area for its weight than other geese, which is believed to help the goose fly at high altitudes. Studies have found that they breathe more deeply and efficiently under low oxygen conditions. The haemoglobin of their blood has a higher oxygen affinity than that of other geese. Again we see a well designed avian creation by its Creator. The Lord knew the conditions and heights it would need to cross to reach the feeding grounds provided for it.

Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. (Genesis 1:30 NKJV)

I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

The Bar-headed Goose migrates over the Himalayas to spend the winter in parts of India (from Assam to as far south as Tamil Nadu. The winter habitat of the Bar-headed Goose is cultivated fields, where it feeds on barley, rice and wheat, and may damage crops. Birds from Kyrgyzstan have been noted to stopover in western Tibet and southern Tajikistan for 20 to 30 days before migrating further south. Some birds may show high wintering site fidelity.

The bird is pale grey and is easily distinguished from any of the other grey geese of the genus Anser by the black bars on its head. It is also much paler than the other geese in this genus. In flight, its call is a typical goose honking. The adult is 71–76 centimetres (28–30 in) and weighs 1.87–3.2 kilograms (4.1–7.1 lb). (Wikipedia)

One more tale to tell. The Common Merganser had just eaten and he started flipping his feet like crazy. He was splashing water everywhere. I suppose he was happy. I finally turned the video on and caught part of it. He even chased the White-headed Duck around.


The name in (parenthesis) at the front is the name the zoo uses. I use the I.O.C. World Bird Names here on the blog. These are in taxonomic order.

White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata) Amazon and Beyond
Plumed Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna eytoni) – Dan’s
(Javan) Lesser Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna javanica) – Dan’s
Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) – Dan’s
Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis)
Coscoroba Swan (Coscoroba coscoroba) Amazon and Beyond
Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) – Dan’s
Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) – Dan’s
Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) – Male – Dan’s
(Pygmy Goose) Cotton Pygmy Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus)
Ringed Teal (Callonetta leucophrys) Male – Female – Dan’s Amazon and Beyond
Bronze-winged Duck (Speculanas specularis) Sign (Saw, but no photo) Amazon and Beyond
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope) (Saw, but no photo)
Blue-winged Teal Female (I think) – Dan’s Amazon and Beyond
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) Dan’s
Sunda Teal (Anas gibberifrons)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) (proof)
White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis) Amazon and Beyond
Baikal Teal (Anas formosa)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) – Dan’s
(Common White Eye) Ferruginous (Aythya myroca) – Dan’s
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) Male – Female – Dan’s
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) Male – Female & young – Dan’s
White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

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Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia – Wow! – I

Bar-headed Goose – Wikipedia

Zoo Miami – Miami, Florida

Wings of Asia – Aviary

Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans Family

Birds Vol 1 #1 – The Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Duck

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. January, 1897 No. 1



A Letter from China.

Quack! Quack! I got in just in time.

I came as fast as I could, as I was afraid of being whipped. You see I live in a boat with a great many other ducks.

My master and his family live in the boat too. Isn’t that a funny place to live in?

We stay in all night. Waking up early in the morning, we cry Quack! Quack! until we wake the master.

He gets up and opens the gate for us and out we tumble into the water. We are in such a hurry that we fall over each other. We swim about awhile and then we go to shore for breakfast.

There are wet places near the shore where we find worms, grubs, and roots. When evening comes the master blows a whistle. Then we know it is time to come home.

We start as soon as we hear it, and hurry, because the last duck in gets a whipping. It does not hurt much but we do not like it, so we all try to get home first.

I have web feet, but I perch like other birds on the branches of the trees near the river.

My feathers are beautiful in the sunlight. My wife always sits near me. Her dress is not like mine. It is brown and grey.

From May to August I lose my bright feathers, then I put on a dress like my wife’s.

My master’s family are Chinese, and they are very queer. They would not sell me for anything, as they would not like to have me leave China.

Sometimes a pair of us are put in a gay cage and carried to a wedding. After the wedding we are given to the bride and groom.

I hear the master’s whistle again. He wants me to come in and go to bed. Quack! Quack! Good bye!

Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) by S Slayton

Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) by S Slayton



MORE magnificently clothed bird,” says Wood, “than the male Chinese Mandarin Duck, can hardly be found, when in health and full nuptial plumage. They are natives of China and Japan, and are held in such high esteem by the Chinese that they can hardly be obtained at any price, the natives having a singular dislike to seeing the birds pass into the possession of Europeans.”

Though web-footed, the birds have the power of perching and it is a curious sight to watch them on the branches of trees overhanging the pond in which they live, the male and female being always close together, the one gorgeous in purple, green, white, and chestnut, and the other soberly appareled in brown and grey. This handsome plumage the male loses during four months of the year, from May to August, when he throws off his fine crest, his wing-fans, and all his brilliant colors, assuming the sober tinted dress of his mate. The Summer Duck of America bears a close resemblance to the Mandarin Duck, both in plumage and manners, and at certain times of the year is hardly to be distinguished from that bird.

The foreign duck has been successfully reared in Zoological Gardens, some being hatched under the parent bird and others under a domestic hen, the latter hatching the eggs three days in advance of the former.

“The Chinese,” says Dr. Bennett, “highly esteem the Mandarin Duck, which exhibits, as they think, a most striking example of conjugal attachment and fidelity. A pair of them are frequently placed in a gaily decorated cage and carried in their marriage processions, to be presented to the bride and groom as worthy objects of emulation.”

“I could more easily,” wrote a friend of Dr. Bennett’s in China to whom he had expressed his desire for a pair of these birds, “send you two live Mandarins than a pair of Mandarin Ducks.”

Concerning their attachment and fidelity to one another, Dr. Bennett recites the following:

“Mr. Beale’s aviary at Maceo one day was broken open and the male bird stolen from the side of its mate. She refused to be comforted, and, retiring to the farthest part of the aviary, sat disconsolate, rarely partaking of food, and giving no attention to her soiled and rumpled plumage. In vain did another handsome drake endeavor to console her for her loss. After some time the stolen bird was found in the quarters of a miserable Chinaman, and at once restored to its mate. As soon as he recognized his abode he began to flap his wings and quack vehemently. She heard his voice and almost quacked to screaming with ecstasy, both expressing their joy by crossing necks and quacking in concert. The next morning he fell upon the unfortunate drake who had made consolatory advances to his mate, pecked out his eyes and so injured him that the poor fellow died in the course of a few days.”

According to Schrenck, this species appears in the countries watered by the Amoor about May, and departs again at the end of August; at this season it is always met with in small or large flocks, which are so extremely shy that they rarely come within gunshot. Whilst on the wing these parties crowd closely together in front, the birds in the rear occupying a comparatively free space.

Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) LPZoo by Dan

Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) LPZoo by Dan

Lee’s Addition:

The Mandarin Duck is in the Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans Family of the Answeriformes Order.  Along with the Wood Duck, these ducks just amaze me in their creation. When the Lord created them, He must have had a very neat paint brush. They are so gorgeous! Every time I see them they almost bring tears to my eyes.

The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata), or just Mandarin, is a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck. It is 16-19 in (41–49 cm) long with a 25.5-29.5 in (65–75 cm) wingspan.

The adult male is a striking and unmistakable bird. It has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and “whiskers”. The breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange “sails” at the back. The female is similar to female Wood Duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill. The Mandarin ducklings are almost identical in look to Wood ducklings, and appear very similar to Mallard ducklings. The ducklings can be distinguished from Mallard ducklings because the eye-stripe of Mandarin ducklings (and Wood ducklings) stops at the eye, while in Mallard ducklings it reaches all the way to the bill.

Unlike other species of ducks, most Mandarin drakes reunite with the hens they mated with along with their offsprings after the eggs have hatched and even share scout duties in watching the ducklings closely. However, even with both parents securing the ducklings, most of them do not survive to adulthood.

Mandarins may form small flocks in winter.

Mandarin Ducks, which are referred to by the Chinese as Yuan-yang (simplified Chinese: 鸳鸯; traditional Chinese: 鴛鴦; pinyin: yuān yāng), where yuan() and yang() respectively stand for male and female Mandarin Ducks.

In traditional Chinese culture, Mandarin Ducks represent a life-time couple, unlike many other species of ducks. Hence they are frequently featured in Chinese art and are regarded as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity.

But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; (Job 12:7 NKJV)

A Chinese proverb for loving couples uses the Mandarin Duck as a metaphor: “Two mandarin ducks playing in water” (simplified Chinese: 鸳鸯戏水; traditional Chinese: 鴛鴦戲水; pinyin: yuān yāng xì shuǐ). The Mandarin Duck symbol is also used in Chinese weddings, because in traditional Chinese lore they symbolize wedded bliss and fidelity.

Because the male and female plumages of the Mandarin Duck are so unalike, yuan-yang is frequently used colloquially in Cantonese to mean an “odd couple” or “unlikely pair” – a mixture of two different types of same category. For example,yuanyang (drink) and yuan-yang fried rice.

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 January 1897 No 1 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the third article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Golden Pheasant

Previous Article – The Resplendent Trogon (Quetzal)


Photos of Mandarin Ducks

Mandarin Duck – Wikipedia

Birds of the World – Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans

Wordless Birds