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Mandarin drakes, originally from East Asia, are the most beautiful ducks with spectacular colours and shapes. Several feral colonies now exist in the UK and other European countries.
Like most ducks, female Mandarins are much plainer than the drakes
They are similar to the female of the only other small, angular-patterned and brightly coloured duck, - the American Wood Duck. Both females are of similar size, colour, pattern and with crest and clawed, webbed feet.
The main visible difference is the white eye border which is thinner in the Mandarin and with a line extending back like spectacles (Wood Duck also has thin yellow eye-border inside the thick white one).
Many male ducks vary their wardrobe with the seasons, moulting
from a colourful breeding plumage to "eclipse" plumage, a
drab winter garb which makes drakes look very like the
camouflaged hens. Above are Mandarin drakes in spring
breeding plumage (left and far right) and nearly completed
transition to winter clothes (centre).