A bird of beauty
As its name suggests, the Mandarin duck comes from East Asia and is arguably one of the most beautiful ducks in the world. The ornate waterfowl became established in other regions following escapes from captivity, and a handful of small, isolated populations exist in the US. This fall, a Mandarin duck made headlines and blazed across social media when it appeared in New York City’s Central Park. The bird attracted crowds of onlookers hoping for a glimpse and a photo, while debates raged on how the bird may have ended up so far from its native territory. But Paul Sweet from the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Ornithology explains on the Gothamist blog that ‘the black cable tie on its right tarsus clearly mark it as an escapee.’ Well done, lovely Mandarin!
Our little buddies brightening up the homepage today are drakes (males). How do we know this? Because drake Mandarins have elaborate plumage with fanciful whiskers and orange ‘sails’ (large feathers that stick up in the back like boat sails). Females are also beautiful birds, but they’re paler than males, with gray heads and brown backs.
The Alcázar of Seville, Spain