Mandarin Ducks are sexually dimorphic (literally “two shaped”). The males are brightly coloured, with a purple chest, orange on their head, and orange feet. The bright colors help attract a female and may help him claim territory. The females are mainly a mottled brown with brown feet, a colour scheme that helps her blend in with her environment. Both have webbed feet and claws. Sturdy wings allow them to move easily while flying unlike most other ducks who repeatedly flap their wings. They perch high in trees.
They also nest in a hole in a tree. The nest site is the females’ decision, but the male joins her in looking. She lines the nest with down feathers before laying 9 to 12 eggs. Shortly after hatching, the mother calls to the chicks from the ground, they free fall out of the tree and everyone goes off in search of food. Fledging occurs after 40 to 45 days.
Mandarin ducks’ diet change depending on the season. In the summer they eat frogs, mollusks, small snakes, fish and worms. In the winter they eat grains, beechnut, seeds and plants.