I've always gotten a chuckle that the daily bag limits set forth by some states include one mandarin duck. To me it's akin to saying hunters may shoot, "four mallards, two pintails and one unicorn."
Yet perhaps I shouldn't laugh. This year I've heard two separate, reliable reports of mandarin ducks in Pennsylvania. One was confirmed through photography and the other with No. 2 shot. The photographed bird was spotted just minutes from my home by Tyler Coleman, president of the State College Chapter of Delta Waterfowl:
Close relatives of our wood ducks, Mandarins were once common in China and Russia until habitat destruction greatly reduced their numbers. Today about 5,000 are thought to inhabit Japan, while a population of about 7,000 is approximated in Great Britain. Spotty, localized populations can be found in some United States locales, and they're also popular among those who keep ducks as pets.
Are they on the rise? Doubtful. But the anecdotal reports of these multi-colored beauties are enough to excite any duck geek.