The Cairinini or perching ducks are a varied tribe of waterfowl including the popular Mandarin and Carolina through to the less common Brazilian Teal and Australian Wood Duck. As the name implies, perching ducks tend to be more arboreal than other waterfowl.
The Carolina and Mandarin are two of the most commonly kept ornamental waterfowl, which given the chance will spend much of their time perched in trees around a favourite pool. In the wild, small pools in a woodland clearing are far preferred to large open lakes.
In captivity they need a foxproof pen with small pond and plants or other cover for shade and protection from wind and weather. A netted aviary is well suited, otherwise ensure no fence posts or shrubs can be used as a means to escape! Their desire to be among the branches is particularly strong when nesting, therefore a nest box above the ground with small entrance hole should be provided.
Feeding requirements are simple for the commonly kept species of perching ducks as they only need a mix of wheat and layers pellets or breeders pellets in the breeding season. Australian Wood Duck (also known as Maned Geese), need a permanent supply of short grass for grazing.
MANDARIN Aix galericulata
Mandarins are among the most popular wildfowl in collections throughout the world for both their ornamental appearance and their charm. The drake in its full glory displays a chestnut, buff and maroon body together with green crest, orange cheek whiskers and spectacular orange dorsal sails.
Mandarins are lively and active ducks at all times but the drake is at its best in its elaborate courtship display. The Mandarin drake has a weak whistle whilst the duck has a soft quack.
Their natural habitat is mature deciduous woodland or parkland with quiet pools and streams. Their preference is for woodland suitable for perching on lower branches.
In the wild, Mandarins usually nest in trees, lining the hollow with down, whilst in captivity they are happy to use raised nesting boxes. They lay a clutch size of 9-12 eggs which the female incubates for 28-30 days.
CAROLINA WOOD DUCK Aix sponsa
Carolinas, sometimes known as North American Wood Duck, are among the most popular wildfowl in collections throughout the world. Equally ornate as the Mandarin, the Carolina drake has distinctive green, blue and violet hues on the head, crest and upper body contrasting with buff sides and chestnut chest and rump.
The Carolina has a range of calls, the drake being relatively silent but the duck possessing a squealing call. They tend to perch on stumps and tree branches. The Carolina is very much a wood dweller with preferred habitats of shallow water and deciduous woodland.
Carolinas breed more readily than Mandarins nesting in tree hollows (or raised boxes in captivity). They lay clutches of 9-14 eggs which are incubated by the female for 28-30 days. If a clutch is lost, Carolinas will usually re-nest.