Wood Duck Aix sponsa
Sound (167 KB)
18.5 inches (47 cm)
• Male: glossy green head with large crest
• White throat, partial neck ring and lines on head
• Chestnut chest with white chevrons and buffy sides
• Red eye and red at base of bill
• A medium-sized duck with a long crest on head
• Long-winged and long-tailed
• Blue-green speculum with white rear border
Adult male breeding:
• Breeding plumage worn from fall through early summer
• Red bill
• Red eye
• Green head
• Striking white stripes about face and crest with a large white throat patch and "fingerlike" extensions onto cheek and neck
• Chestnut breast and neck with vertical white stripe at lower margin
• Golden flanks bordered above by a white flank stripe
• White belly
• Iridescent dark green-blue back and wings
Adult male nonbreeding:
• In nonbreeding plumage, the male resembles the female, but often retains the distinctive neck patch and red bill
• Gray bill
• White teardrop shaped patch around eye
• White throat
• Gray-brown head and neck
• Gray-brown breast stippled with white and fading to a white belly
• Dark brown back
• Gray bill
• Female similar to adult female
• Males similar to adult females, but with white neck patch
• Adult male is unmistakable. Female, immature and eclipse males are nondescript, but distinctive in face pattern, shape and speculum pattern.
Freshwater swamps, marshes, ponds, lakes and slow-moving rivers surrounded by deciduous forest. Will nest in man-made nest boxes. Found in pairs or small flocks in the summer. During the fall and winter, may form larger flocks when roosting or feeding. Wood Ducks ride higher on the water than other ducks. Often seen perching on stumps, snags or branches near water.
NESTING & FEEDING:
BREEDING: Wooded swamp, bottomland slough, flooded forest, pond, marsh. 1 brood, occasionally 2, especially in s. Mating system is monogamous.
DISPLAYS: Courtship and pair formation begin in autumn, continue into spring. Courtship bouts in groups average 11 birds, males outnumbering females; always includes vocalizations. See: Duck Displays.
NEST: Prefer tree cavity over 30 feet high. Lined with wood chips, down. Occasionally use abandoned nest hole of other species, rock fissure. Perennial. Female builds nest.
EGGS: 10-15 Creamy white. 2.0" (51 mm).
CHICK DEVELOPMENT: Female incubates. Incubation takes 28-37 days. Development is precocial (mobile, downy, follow parents, find own food). Young are able to fly after 56-70 days. Female tends young.
DIET: Seeds, acorns, berries, grain; aquatic and terrestrial insects, other invertebrates.
CONSERVATION: Winters s to Cuba and Bahamas. Market-hunted for plumage, food, and eggs; nest habitat lost through development and forestry practices; by early 1900s verged on extinction, but made comeback. Readily use nest boxes.
NOTES: Older males pair earlier in season than yearlings. Females show extremely strong nest site tenacity. Clutches of 15-50 result from 2-10+ females contributing to individual nests ("dumped"); dumping increases with increased density of nest boxes. Female will repel parasitizing females from her nest. Young remain in nest 24 hours; sharp-clawed, can climb up to 8 feet out of cavity. If disturbed, young submerge like grebe or dive to reach cover.
Aix sponsa. WOOD DUCK. Wooded swamps, streams, marshes. From s British Columbia and sw Alberta to s coastal and c int. Calif., sc,se Oregon, nc Nevada, ne Utah, sc Idaho and w,s,e Montana, e of the Rockies from ec,se Saskatchewan and c Manitoba e across s Canada to e Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, s to e Wyoming, nc,se Colorado, c N. and S. Dakota, ec Nebraska, e Kansas, c Oklahoma, nc,e Texas, Gulf coast, s Florida and Cuba. Winters s to sw U.S., c Mexico and Bahama Islands. Introduced in Great Britain, not certainly established.