At the zoo we provide nest boxes because the mandarin duck is known to nest in holes in trees, sometimes high up and a long way from the water. Shortly after the ducklings hatch, the female flies down and tries to coax the young to jump from the nest. Once they have left the tree and made their way back to water, the father will return to the family and help to protect the ducklings. Extra fact: for food, mandarin ducks love grains, seeds, acorns and other forms of plant life. They aren't total vegetarians, however, especially in the summer when lakes and ponds are teeming with life.