Genus: Aix


The two members of the genus Aix live in widely separate parts of the world. The Wood Duck is native to the eastern United States, while the Mandarin Duck lives in China and Japan.

The Mandarin Duck is a native resident of Japan, breeds in northern China and the southern part of the Russian Far East, and winters in south-eastern China. The Wood Duck is resident all year along the US West Coast and in the US South East, with a breeding population further north on both coasts, and a wintering population in Texas and parts of northern Mexico.

The genus is represented in Britain by a naturalised breeding population of the Mandarin Duck, well enough established to be considered a resident breeder. There are also naturalised populations in Holland and parts of Germany.

The two species are slightly smaller than the closely related Tadorna (Shelducks), reaching 41-49cm in length.

Both species are colourfully marked, in particular the Mandarin Duck. The females are smaller and not as colourful.

The two species have different diets, with the Wood Duck eating small crustaceans, insects and plants, and the Mandarin Duck mainly eating plants. Both prefer woodland areas.

Aix is said to come from the Greek for water bird, Aiks, although that actually appears to translate as 'goat' or 'buck' in modern Greek. The original reference probably comes from Aristotle, where it refers to a diving bird, although almost certainly not either of these birds.

Order: Anseriformes (Geese, swans, ducks)
Family: Anatidae (Swans, Geese, Ducks)
Genus: Aix

Number of Species: 2 (as of March 2015)

British Members of the Genus

Resident Breeders
Mandarin Duck, Aix Galericulata