Mandarin and wood duck questions!

Cailyn Riley

In the Brooder
Aug 8, 2017
it has taken me forever to figure out how to post- for that reason I have a million and one questions.

First, here’s some background. We found a baby wood duck back in July- our intentions were to give him to our local wildlife sanctuary but actually heard some terrible things about them from our vet (we also have a mini bull terrier.) Unknowing we had to have a permit for our little guy, we kept him and he quickly became family. To say he is my baby is an understatement- and he’s extremely domesticated despite hearing their temperament makes them difficult to domesticate. Naturally, I did my research and discovered the need for a companion duck, and that is where our mandarin came in. I know they are “cousins” in the duck world. Our mandarin was wild and full grown when we got him- so the adjustment has been difficult as he is skittish, however, he is super kind and submissive of my bratty and bossy wood duck. Is that the natural temperament of a mandarin? Both are males. The wood ducks name is Bean and the mandarin is Cooper.

The mandarin seems to be missing a patch of feathers in his chest. He is not molting- he seems otherwise healthy aside from some consistently liquid poop that was quickly fixed with some electrolytes and probiotics. The mandarin also does this thing where he stands his hair up on his head and almost seems to hiccup? I mean, I haven’t research if ducks can hiccup so it very well could be that? What could cause both issues?

Also, there have been no discruntles with the woody and mandarin aside from a little chasing from the woody with his mouth open but the mandarin just runs and gives Bean his space. Is it ridiculous of me to think they’ll become buddies? They do hang around together often. Will the mandarin ever be as tame as the woody?

Finally, we have a duck coop that is about 5 ft high by 12 feet covered in steel mesh on all sides and underneath with chicken wire on top. We have our “Bean house” which could probably withstand a hurricane inside the coop and is about 2 ft off the group (requires them to walk up a duck ramp to get inside.) We can get Bean inside because we can just pick him up and place him in there. The one time we tried to get cooper in there, he spooked and ended up hurting his beak and was bleeding. Is there a less dramatic way to get him in the coop at night? We put Bean in there and let cooper roam freely in the pin (that is what he did where we got him, there was no coop.) at night, but eventually I feel a predator will spot him and even if the predator doesn’t find a way in- cooper will most likely hurt himself just by flying like a crazy duck all around the pin. Also, it seems like cooper gets a bit upset when Bean is put up and he is left out alone. Bean will not stay in there willingly so it’s almkst like I need to get them in there together or Cooper first.

Any responses or suggestion would be so greatly appreciated considering my novel.


6 Years
Apr 30, 2014
Roanoke area, Va.
First of all, welcome to BYC, glad you figured out how to post!

I do not have any ducks or birds of any sort other than a pigeon, so my advice will be less than helpful I'm sure... but, that being said, the only one of your questions I feel at all qualified to take a stab at is the how to get Cooper in the house.

Do you free feed them? If so, I would recommend stopping that and putting them on meals in the evening with maybe a snack in the morning, that way they are hungry close to bed time. Then, start putting some feed on the ramp and get Cooper to understand that the ramp is a good thing and he can walk on it. You may need to put Bean somewhere else for this so that he doesn't bully Cooper for the food. Is it dark in the "bean house"? If so, try getting a battery powered light and put it in there, so it is starting to get dark in the pen but light inside the building. If it's not lighted inside, Cooper may not want to go into the darker area. Once you have the light inside and you have feed on the ramp with a hungry Cooper, he MAY just wander up there. Are there any treats he likes? If so, put some of those inside the house so once he goes in, there is a nice reward for going up there. This will probably take several days especially since you guys had a fight and he probably thinks the house is scary, but you can cuddle Bean while Cooper figures it out. If Cooper goes in, try to go put Bean in as well and shut the door (turning the light out so they go to sleep rather than pick at each other) if Cooper tries to leave, let him, you don't want him to feel trapped, you want him to think the house is a safe place, so if he leaves, just let him, put Bean up and try again the next evening.


Aug 7, 2015
Peyton, CO
I don't know too much about Mandarin and Wood ducks but I'll share what I do. Both of these are wild breeds so they will want to seek out females to mate with come Spring/breeding season. If you don't confine or clip wings they may fly off when the hormones hit. I don't know if having each other is enough for companionship for these breeds. The folks in the ornamental fowl area would be able to give better information.

Chicken wire won't keep predators out. You'll want to replace that with something stronger, like hardware cloth.

As for going in the house, make sure the ramp is very wide and very long. Ducks aren't very keen on going up ramps so you have to make it as easy as possible. It you don't have any already, add treads or something that will give good traction.

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