Wood Duck - Aix sponsa excubitor

Length 1.6-1.8 ft (48.3-53.3 cm)
Wingspan 2.2-2.4 ft (66.0-73.7 cm)
Weight 1.3 lb (589.7 g)
Clutch Size 9-15
Chicks at birth Precocial
IUCN Conservation Status Least Concern

Wood Ducks are one of the most beautiful ducks in the world. The female is striking, but the male is spectacular. The male plumage plumage is a multicolored iridescent with chestnuts and greens. His bill is orange, white, black and yellow. The female is more brown but the some of the wing feathers are a multicolored iridescent. The male has red eyes and the female has a large white eye ring.

Wood Ducks are one of 43 species of waterfowl found in North America. They are also the second most hunted duck in the U.S. after Mallards. Another name for Wood Ducks is "woodies"

Wood Ducks are perching ducks and have sharp claws for perching in trees. They are good divers and are still able to run fast on the ground.

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Diet: Wood Ducks are omnivores and eat a variety of aquatic and dry land food. Examples of food include invertebrates, seeds, fruit, insects, acorns, nuts, etc.

Courtship: It is believed that Wood Ducks are monogamous for a single breeding season and that pair bonds frequently don't last more than one season. Courtship usually begins 6-7 months before the nesting season. Actual courtship rituals include ritualized displays and vocalizations by the male. They have 21 ritualized courtship displays some lasting only a second. The courtship displays are either done singly or done one after another.

Nesting: Wood Duck build their nest in natural or woodpecker excavated tree cavities near swamps, marshes, streams, small lakes, etc. They prefer fresh water. They will also use nest boxes.

Wood Ducks will re-nest if their first (and maybe second) clutch is destroyed. In some areas they may also have more than one successful clutch. Wood Ducks are the only North American duck that produced two broods in one year. Clutch size is difficult to gauge because female Wood Ducks will lay eggs in other nests, but clutch size usually varies from 8-15.

The young are "precocial" and jump out of the nest the day after they are hatched and head for the water. Ducklings feed on vegetation and terrestrial invertebrates during the first few weeks of life.

Habitat and Range: Wood Ducks inhabit a wide variety of habitats that are new freshwater. They prefer water that has vegetation that they can hid in.

They tend to avoid salt and brackish marshes and large expansive open waters. They are found throughout most of the U.S., Mexico, and the southern parts of Canada.

Vocalization: Male and female Wood Ducks create different sounds. The male can create whistle-like sounds and the female have a louder and harsher voice.

Plumage/Molt: The male Wood Duck is the first North American duck to enter basic plumage and the first to enter alternate (breeding) plumage.

Migration: Migration is dependent on where Wood Ducks live. Breeding ducks in the northern part of North America migrate south in winter to either the southwestern states or Mexico. Otherwise, Wood Ducks are year-round residents. Wood ducks that reside in the southern areas of the U.S. do not migrate. Wood Ducks, like many birds, mainly migrate at night.

Tongue/feet: Wood Duck claws are very strong and they can grip bark and perch on branches. This is not true of most ducks.


  • http://en.wikipedia.org The Free Encyclopedia, Accessed June, 2012
  • Bellrose, Frank C. & Daniel J. Holm, Ecology and Management of the Wood Duck,Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 1994

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