After raising many breeds of domestic ducks, I fell in love with wild ducks starting with Mandarins. I was intrigued by them. Not only are they a beautiful breed, their natural instincts are admirable. The females are quite particular when picking a mate. If there are many suitors she will decide among them by discerning which male has the strongest genetic makeup. She will then set about bonding with him. It is a very unique courtship. It can take a few days or a few weeks, but once they have bonded they are mates for life. Or until death do they part.
The female is rather plain compared to the bright-colored pattern of the male. Yet she is soft in her appearance. In the header picture, above, Jackie is the female on the right. Jack is the male. He is Jackie’s second husband. Picasso was her first mate who fell prey to a predator a couple of years ago. They were closely bonded and she seemed to be grieving. I found a breeder about an hour and a half drive from here in Waco, Texas, a few months after we lost Picasso, and purchased Jack who had hatched the Spring before. When I arrived home with him Jackie seemed interested almost immediately but Jack seemed unsure at first. The following clip shows her distain when he doesn’t accept her seductive pose of laying herself out on the water to breed with him :
Fortunately they finally bonded. Below is a video of their late spring hatch. Jack has gone through his summer molt and is in eclipse plumage. It is hard to tell, if you don’t know them, which is Jack and which is Jackie. I have them in a small pool instead of the pond for the safety of the 5 babies who can get in and out of it easier than the pond:
To avoid inbreeding which can have adverse effects on the offspring, I traded 4 of the ducklings in the Fall for 1 male and 2 female Wood ducks and one female Mandarin, keeping one male of my spring hatch. Below are my Mandarins and Wood ducks:
It is really cold for East Texas this time of year. We are expecting the weather to be below freezing for the first 3 days of the New Year. Jackie must not have gotten the weather reports before she started laying eggs early. She is currently sitting on at least 8 eggs. I will try to make sure they have a chance to make it, but I’m not sure they will. It is a long time until Spring. But I’m sure she’ll lay again if they don’t make it. One nest of eggs was eaten by a chicken snake a couple of years ago and she laid again.
© copyright 2017—Phyllis Rogers