The mandarin, widely regarded as the world's most beautiful duck, is a native of China and Japan.
The drake mandarin's stunning plumage has long made it an artist's favourite, and it is widely depicted in oriental art.
The first mandarins were imported to Britain in the mid-18th century, but it wasn't until the 1930s that escapes from wildfowl collections started breeding here.
The first birds to escape did so from Alfred Ezra's collection at Foxwarren Park, near Cobham in Surrey, and this area remains one of the strongholds of mandarins in England.
Mandarins favour small wooded ponds and avoid lakes or large bodies of open water.
They are extremely manoeuvrable fliers, able to fly through trees with remarkable agility.
They frequently perch in trees, while the female invariably chooses a hole or cavity in a tree trunk in which to lay her eggs.
Lack of natural nest sites and competition from jackdaws and squirrels limits population expansion, but they will readily adopt suitable nest boxes.
After hatching, the ducklings jump to the ground: their fluffy down and lightweight ensures that injuries are unusual.
Once the mother has gathered her brood, she leads them straight to water.
It was long believed that the British population - now close to 8,000 birds - was of international importance, but previously undiscovered populations have been discovered in China, so this duck is far more numerous than was once thought.
In their native China mandarins have long been regarded as symbols of fidelity and pairs were given to brides on their wedding day.
In fact mandarins, like most ducks, only pair for the season, and new pairs will form again in the autumn.
The drake mandarin's display is highly ritualised, and includes raising the crest and the orange sails, and ritualised drinking and preening behind the sail.
The so-called sail is an elongated tertial feather.
In eclipse (summer) plumage the drake moults and looks almost identical to the duck, only his bright red beak indicating his sex.
China historically exported hundreds of thousands of mandarins, but the export trade was banned in 1975.
The mandarin is a member of the genus, which has only one other member, the closely related North American wood duck. Though the drakes are very different, the plumage of the females is very similar.
Despite the closeness of the relationship with the wood duck, no hybrids have ever been recorded. This is because the mandarin has a chromosome aberrance that makes it impossible for it to produce hybrids with other ducks.
The mandarin is one of the few introduced species in Britain that has not created any environmental problems, mainly because it uses a habitat not favoured by our native wildfowl.
Female mandarins don't quack, but they do make a series of clucking calls that are invariably uttered when they see danger, such as a hunting fox.
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