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Huahai Mandarin Duck

by Meirong Lee
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Huahai Mandarin Duck

Huahai Mandarin Duck: Huahaizi Lake is 65 kilometers north­ west of Chengguan Town, Menyuan County. Also known as Luanhaizi, Taixing Spring, or Jinouan Snrina, it is one of tho eight ancient tourist attractions in Menyuan. The lake, surrounded by hills resembling a lotus flower with eight petals, collects water from 108 springs nearby.

The Kashigang Snow Peak casts its shadow in the lake, which looks like a mirror on the snow-covered plateau. Herds of cattle and sheep feed on lush pastures in the wetland around the lake, and various birds have fun on the lake. The lake is especially famous for mandarin ducks swimming in pairs on the water.

The mandarin duck is a perching duck species native to the East Palearctic. It is medium-sized, at 41–49 cm long with a 65–75 cm wingspan. It is closely related to the North American wood duck, the only other member of the genus Aix. ‘Aix’ is an Ancient Greek word that was used by Aristotle to refer to an unknown diving bird, and ‘galericulata’ is the Latin for a wig, derived from galerum, a cap or bonnet.

Mandarin ducklings are almost identical in appearance to wood ducklings, and very similar to mallard ducklings. The ducklings can be distinguished from mallard ducklings because the eye-stripe of mandarin ducklings (and wood ducklings) stops at the eye, while in mallard ducklings it reaches all the way to the bill.

Threats

Predation of the mandarin duck varies between different parts of its range. Mink, raccoon dogs, otters, polecats, Eurasian eagle-owls, and grass snakes are all predators of the mandarin duck. The greatest threat to the mandarin duck is habitat loss due to loggers. Hunters are also a threat to the mandarin duck, because often they are unable to recognize the mandarin in flight and as a result, many are shot by accident. Mandarin ducks are not hunted for food, but are still poached because their extreme beauty is prized.

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