The Mandarin duck is considered by most to be among the world’s most exotic birds. A blaze of different colors marks the drake’s plumage with red and orange, blue and green, and more discreet shades of buffs and browns. A crest of orange and cream feathers gives the head a disproportionately large look, this is balanced by a pair of orange "wing sails" that rise from the back. The hen in contrast is rather dull, with an overall grey appearance, and greatly resembles a wood duck hen.
The mandarin is a very popular aviary bird, and is commonly seen in many collections. These birds do not require a large aviary, they are hardy, easy to maintain, and will do well in a mixed collection making them an excellent choice for the beginner.
Like the wood duck, mandarins require a raised box for nesting. Mandarins are capable of breeding their first year. Mandarins have elaborate courtship displays in which the male raises his hood and sail feathers while making a sound much like a burp. Males often act aggressive toward other males during breeding season. It is mostly for show perhaps to impress the hens and I have never had one to be injured in these scuffles.
Breeding season is in spring and in our region begins in March. Clutches consist of 8 to 12 eggs ,they are incubated for about 28 days. If eggs are removed from the hen early in incubation a second clutch is often produced. Second clutches usually consist of less eggs than the first. The young are easy to raise and are full feathered in about 8 weeks.
The Mandarin comes in several color mutations, including the white Mandarin, apricot Mandarin , and black Mandarin. The white Mandarin is the most common and to my knowledge, the only color mutation of this species that is currently bred in the US.