Rare Mandarin duck at Burnaby Lake could be escaped pet

Rare Mandarin duck at Burnaby Lake could be escaped pet
Rare Mandarin duck at Burnaby Lake could be an escaped pet
A rare duck native to East Asia is making a splash in a lake east of Vancouver, and experts believe it is an escaped pet.

The Mandarin duck, with its vibrant golden, green and blue plumage, is attracting visitors to Burnaby Lake and was first seen in May, says Irene Lau, chair of the Burnaby Lake Park Association. 

Records show that about 10 years ago there was a sighting of a Mandarin duck in the area, Lau says, although she adds that there is only that one record.

The Mandarin duck, with his vibrant golden, green and blue plumage, is attracting visitors to Burnaby Lake and was first seen in May, says Irene Lau, chair of the Burnaby Lake Park Association. A similar fowl in New York has drawn crowds too.

The Mandarin duck is a distant cousin of wood ducks, which have been calling the park home since they were first sighted in the 1960s, she says.

Harold Eyster, a PhD student studying biodiversity and nature conservation at the University of British Columbia, says it seems likely that this bird is an escapee, since these birds are popular garden ornaments.

In the 1970s, the park association started putting up nesting boxes for them, so the wood ducks began to spend winters at the lake.

Harold Eyster, a PhD student studying biodiversity and nature conservation at the University of British Columbia, says it seems likely that this bird is an escapee, since these birds are popular garden ornaments.

There was a bit of a flurry of Mandarin ducks being seen in the area for a number of years in the 1980s and 1990s, he says, which possibly came from breeders.

There's likely nothing on the books that says you can't keep Mandarin ducks as pets, says the BC SPCA in a statement.

Records show that about 10 years ago there was a sighting of a Mandarin duck in the area, Lau says, although she adds that there is only that one record.

Geoff LeBaron, director of the Christmas bird count at the National Audubon Society, says the ducks are a very popular bird with people who raise water fowl, so this bird could be an escaped pet.

The Mandarin duck is a distant cousin of wood ducks, which have been calling the park home since they were first sighted in the 1960s, she says.

There was a bit of a flurry of Mandarin ducks being seen in the area for a number of years in the 1980s and 1990s, he says, which possibly came from breeders.

BURNABY – A rare duck native to East Asia is making a splash in a lake east of Vancouver and experts believe he is an escaped pet.

A rare duck native to East Asia is making a splash in a lake east of Vancouver and experts believe he is an escaped pet.

The Mandarin duck, with his vibrant golden, green and blue plumage, is attracting visitors to Burnaby Lake and was first seen in May, says Irene Lau, chair of the Burnaby Lake Park Association. A similar fowl in New York has drawn crowds too.

In the United States [and Canada], the Mandarin duck isnt wild, he tells me. It will only be coming from captivity of some sort, and the possibilities are a zoo or private owner. Apparently every year, a number of domestic ducks get dumped in Central Park, and we just dont noticed them because they arent as hot (he says they are usually very drab). David explains our Mandarin duck probably flew from a farm in New Jersey, or was a pet that someone chose to release. As for the Vancouver duck, he says, There are farms throughout the country that have these Mandarin ducks and occasionally they escape, so thats the source in general in North America, and its probably also how the Vancouver duck got there.

Records show that about 10 years ago there was a sighting of a Mandarin duck in the area, Lau says, although she adds that there is only that one record.

The Mandarin duck is a distant cousin of wood ducks, which have been calling the park home since they were first sighted in the 1960s, she says.

In the 1970s the park association started putting up nesting boxes for them so the wood ducks began to spend winters at the lake.

7) The ducks were twins separated in their parents messy divorce. One of them moved to Vancouver and one of them moved to New York, and soon they will reconnect at duck summer-camp and try to get their parents back together.

These birds not only glide on water and walk through the grass but they often sit in trees, Lau says.

I told him some of my theories, which he quickly shot down. Theres no worldwide outbreak of them, they pop up, he added. I think now that our duck is in the news, other people are more attuned.

Harold Eyster, a PhD student studying biodiversity and nature conservation at the University of British Columbia, says it seems likely that this bird is an escapee, since these birds are popular garden ornaments.

There is a second duck. Its in Vancouver, Canada, where it has been living since May because the Canadians are too polite to brag about it. Its the same breed. And nobody knows where it came from.

There’s likely nothing on the books that says you can’t keep Mandarin ducks as pets, says the BC SPCA in a statement.

He has been around since May. The Burnaby Lake community has been very Canadian-like as we are with any unfeathered celebrity and not bothered him too much by keeping a respectful distance.

Geoff LeBaron, director of the Christmas bird count at the National Audubon Society, says the ducks are a very popular bird with people who raise water fowl, so this bird could be an escaped pet.

I was starting to feel very scared. But then I got on the phone with David Barrett, a.k.a. Manhattan Bird Alert, and he said that the actual story is probably a lot more mundane.

There was a bit of a flurry of Mandarin ducks being seen in the area for a number of years in the 1980s and 1990s, he says, which possibly came from breeders.

1) A Banksy-esque prankster is releasing these ducks around the world as part of a conceptual art project.

Lau believes the duck escaped from a hobby farm, and says people at the park have mostly left him alone.

The park also has a bobcat family and a mink so whether he dodges them depends on how smart he is, she says.

“But he could stay year-round because life at the lake is pretty good,” Lau adds with a chuckle.