Wood duck
Male wood duck

Description of The Wood Duck

Wood ducks are medium-sized perching ducks. The average adult measures between 47 and 54 cm (19 to 21, in) or 1.5 feet. The wood duck is approximately 66 cm in length and has a wingspan between 26 and 29 inches (26 to 73 cm).

The weight of a wood duck is between 454-862g (16.0-30.4 oz). It is approximately three-quarters the length of an adult mallard. It shares its genus and the Asian Mandarin duck (Aix gallericulata).

The adult male is multicoloured and iridescent with red eyes and a distinct white flare down his neck. The less colourful female has a white eye-ring and a whitish neck. Both adults have crested heads.

The male calls are a rising whistle and the females make a long, drawn-out, rising sound when they’re flushed.

Female wood duck
Female wood duck

Behaviour Of The Wood Duck

Their preferred habitats are wooded swamps and shallow lakes, marshes, ponds, and creeks along the east coast of the United States and the west coast of Canada. Although they prefer nesting in trees near water, they can also use nesting boxes in wetland areas. They may be competing with other species for nesting cavities such as birds of prey and mammals like grey squirrels.

These animals could also use nest boxes designed for wood ducks. As a result, wood ducks can nest up to a mile from their water source. The elevation protects the nests from predators.

Wood duck species

The wood duck is unique among ducks because it can perch in trees with sharp claws. It can also produce two broods in one season in the southern regions. This is the only North American duck capable of doing so.

The average incubation time for white-tan eggs is 30 days. Females usually lay 7-15 white-tan eggs. Nesting boxes placed too close together can lead to females laying eggs in nests that are not their own. This is known as nest dumping.

The precocial ducklings hatch from their nest by climbing to the cavity and jumping down from the nest tree to get to the water. They are called to their mother by their mother, but she does not assist them.

Wood duck species

The young prefer to nest over water, so they have a soft landing. However, the nest can be found up to 140m (460ft) from the shoreline. After they hatch, they climb up to the nest entrance to jump to the ground. By this stage, the ducklings are able to swim and find their food.

These birds feed by walking or dabbling on the ground. Dabbling is a way to find food in the water surface, rather than diving under the surface to search for food. They are omnivores and eat mostly berries, seeds, acorns, as well as insects.

Distribution Of The Wood Duck

They are year-round residents in some parts of the southern range. However, the northern population migrates south to winter. They winter in the south of the United States, near the Atlantic Coast.

Wood duck species

The Pacific Flyway’s wood ducks are non-migratory in 75%. Due to their attractive plumage, they are also popular in waterfowl collections and as such are frequently recorded in Great Britain as escapees–populations have become temporarily established in Surrey in the past, but are not considered to be self-sustaining in the fashion of the closely related mandarin duck.

The wood duck is also an invasive species in England, Wales and the UK. It is prohibited to release them into nature. The species’ native distribution means that it is a potential natural vagrant to Western Europe.

There have been records in areas like Cornwall, Scotland, and the Isles of Scilly. Some observers believe these records may be wild birds. However, due to the popularity of the wood duck in captivity, it would be very difficult to prove their provenance. A small feral population exists in Dublin.

Wood duck species

Wood Duck Conservation

Wood duck/Conservation status

  • Least Concern
  • Population increasing

Due to habitat loss and hunting for meat and plumage in Europe’s ladies’ hat markets, the wood duck population was in severe decline by the end of the 19th century.

Wood duck species

Wood ducks were virtually extinct from large parts of their former range by the turn of the 20th century. Wood duck populations started to recover slowly after the Migratory Bird Treaty was established in 1916, and the U.S.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was enacted in 1918. Wood duck populations started to recover in the 1920s after being stopped from unregulated hunting and taking steps to preserve the remaining habitat. Wood duck production was further boosted by the invention of the artificial nesting container in the 1930s. The Conservation Evidence website has more information about the effectiveness of nest boxes.

Wood duck species

Wood duck nest boxes can be built near streams, lakes, and ponds by landowners and park and refuge managers. Fulda, Minnesota, has made the wood duck its unofficial mascot. There are many nest boxes in the area.

The wood duck population has been thriving due to the expansion of North American beaver colonies throughout its range.

Wood duck species

In the past few years, the wood duck population has seen a significant increase. Many people have worked hard to create wood duck boxes and preserve the habitat that wood ducks need to breed.

The United States has been restricted to taking two wood ducks daily in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways during the open waterfowl seasons. The limit was increased to three for the 2008-2009 season. Wood duck limits remain at two in Central Flyway, and seven in Pacific Flyway. It is second in North America after the mallard.

Wood duck species

In popular culture

The Royal Canadian Mint produced two coins in 2013 to celebrate the wood duck. These two coins are part of a 3-coin set that promotes Ducks Unlimited Canada and celebrates its 75th anniversary. It’s featured in James Thurber’s short story, “The Wood Duck”.

People Also Ask

What’s so special about a wood duck, you ask?

The Wood Duck is a colourful, striking bird. It is one of very few ducks to have claws on their feet, which allows them to perch in trees. This unique bird is a delight for both game bird hunters and birdwatchers. Aix sponsa, the Wood Duck, is a colourful and flamboyant species of North American waterfowl.

Wood duck species

Why are they called wood ducks?

Wood ducks are named for their nesting in tree cavities. They can be found in wooded swamps or woodlands close to rivers, streams, and ponds. Their range is extensive and the wood duck was once considered a national symbol.

Wood duck species

Where can North American wood ducks be found?

These birds are found in wooded Swamps, where they nest in holes made in trees or in nest boxes placed around the lake edge. These birds are the only duck species that have strong claws and can grasp bark and perch on branches.

Is there a UK wood duck?

This duck is one of a few with strong claws, which allows it to perch in trees. The wood duck nests in tree holes and the young ducks may need to leap from high places to reach the ground. This is a different species from other ducks. This wild species is rare, but it is quite common in Britain.

Wood duck species

Which month are wood ducks most likely to nest?

Wood ducks can be described as “dabbling” ducks that swim and forage for food. Nesting: Wood ducks begin to breed in April. To line the nest, the hen will take some of her feathers out.

Further Reading

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