Mandarin Duck

by Carl Strang

In recent weeks I have been putting some time into visiting preserves I haven’t seen in a while, and scouting new ones for their potential in next year’s singing insect surveys. One day went into preserve hopping in northern Will County. For once I left my Canon camera with the long lens at home, and of course that was a day I wish I’d had it. Walking north of the parking lots at Messenger Woods, I came to a bridge crossing a forest stream. A duck flushed from beside the bridge and flew a short distance downstream.

It was a male mandarin duck.

It was a male mandarin duck.

I did the best I could with the little point-and-shoot Olympus in maximum telephoto, but clearly missed my Canon. The mandarin duck is an Asian species closely related to our wood duck. This one looked comfortably in place in an Illinois forest. He was beautiful, his plumage fresh. There is no question of this being a wanderer from China. Beautiful birds like this are popular among aviculturists. I put out word of this escapee, but have heard nothing back about it. The duck’s flight capability and shyness will make recovery a challenge.

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