When I was on the Atlantic Coast of Florida at the beginning of January, someone mentioned that there were Mandarin Ducks (Aix galericulata) on Lake Mirror or Lake Morton in Lakeland. When I first got to Lakeland, I looked for them, but didn’t find any. I did find many, many mute swans on Lake Morton. Lakeland has bred Mute Swans on Lake Morton for decades. The first swans appeared in Lakeland in n 1920s. After a few decades, they all died off for various reasons included dogs, disease, and alligators. In the 1950s, a woman from Lakeland asked Queen Elizabeth II of England for a pair of swans (apparently the queen owned all the swans along the Thames River – I don’t even want to know how that started!) Regardless, a pair of swans was sent from England to Lakeland and then released at Lake Morton. They thrived and are the “symbol” of Lakeland, Florida. But, back to the Mandarin Ducks. It seems the city decided they would add to the waterfowl collection by releasing Mandarin Ducks on Lake Mirror in late 2013. The release include two mated pairs. I saw two mated pairs and a few other juveniles which would indicate they are breeding. The ducks are in open water and free to come and go as they please. That said, Lake Mirror seems to have everything they could want, so I expect they’ll stay for a long time. Mandarin Ducks are not native to North America. Their original habitat was Russia, China, and nearby countries. Now feral populations exist in several other countries, notably England and Ireland. The second time I went to Lake Mirror (after a trip to Circle B Bar Preserve), I found the Mandarin Ducks on one side of the lake. The next day I returned and found the ducks on the far end of the lake. There photos are from the small group of 5-7 ducks from two different days.

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