Sedona’s amazing Mandarins
On the first day of a 3-day stay in mid-January 2012 at the Amara Resort in Uptown Sedona, Arizona, I came across a Mandarin duck pair sharing nearby Oak Creek with a few dozen mallards and wood ducks. On the second day at the same location was a second Mandarin couple. I find online photos of a male in roughly the same spot as far back as 2009, but mine here (first photo in gallery) is the first photo I can find that documents two pairs — giving credence to the idea that someone is trying to get a Mandarin flock started here. It could be coincidence, but given the beauty of these East Asian birds and Sedona’s tourist nature, it’s not so hard to imagine how a population of the gorgeous ducks would, er, dovetail with the city’s charmed reputation.
If anyone has further info on the origins of this species in Oak Creek, please post a comment and I’ll incorporate it here. I first found reports of a Mandarin in Oak Creek on the website of AZFO, Arizona Field Ornithologists, which invites photos and other reporting at http://www.azfo.org.
Below is a short video of one of the males swimming and engaging in typical behavior that I observed on all three days. The behavior was the same whether floating or standing at water’s edge: dipping of the bill in the water, then popping the head forward then up and back in an animated way. Often this was followed by a preening motion, twisting the bill back into the shoulder feathers, often accompanied at the end of the preen by a low guttural sound. If you listen closely, the sound can be heard at about 00:27 on the video.
The first gallery photo shows one male in the upper left, a second in lower right. Females accompanied both, although only one is seen in this image.
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