Ducks, Grebes

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Duck is the common name for a number of Water Bird species. The ducks are divided between several subfamilies. Swans and Geese are not considered ducks. Ducks are mostly aquatic birds, mostly smaller than the swans and geese and may be found in both fresh water and sea water.

Ducks are sometimes confused with several types of unrelated water birds with similar forms, such as Loons, Grebes, Gallinules and Coots.

The overall body plan of ducks is elongated and broad. The ducks are relatively long-necked, although not as long-necked as the Swans and Geese. The body shape of diving ducks varies somewhat from this in being more rounded. The bill is usually broad and contains serrated lamellae which are particularly well defined in the filter-feeding species. In the case of some fishing species the bill is long and strongly serrated. The scaled legs are strong and well developed, and generally set far back on the body, more so in the highly aquatic species. The wings are very strong and are generally short and pointed, and the flight of ducks requires fast continuous strokes, requiring in turn strong wing muscles. Many species of duck are temporarily flightless while Moulting; they seek out protected habitat with good food supplies during this period. This moult typically precedes migration.

Most duck species breed once a year, choosing to do so in favourable conditions. Ducks also tend to make a nest before breeding.

Records

American Black Duck

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American Wigeon

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The American Wigeon is a species of dabbling duck found in North America. It is a medium-sized bird; it is larger than a teal, but smaller than a pintail. The breeding male (drake) is a striking bird with a mask of green feathers around its eyes and a cream colored cap running from the crown of its head to its bill. This white patch gives the wigeon its other common name, baldpate (pate is another word for head). Their belly is also white. In flight, drakes can be identified by the large white shoulder patch on each wing. These white patches flash as the birds bank and turn. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female.

Atitlan Grebe

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Barrow's Goldeneye

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Black Scoter

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The Black-bellied Whistling-duck is a whistling-duck that breeds from the southernmost United States and tropical Central to south-central South America.

In the USA, it can be found year-round in parts of southeast Texas, and seasonally in southeast Arizona, and Louisiana's Gulf Coast. It is a rare breeder in such disparate locations as Florida, Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina.

The Black-bellied Whistling-duck is 55 cm long. It has a long red bill, long head, long legs, pale grey head and mostly grey-brown plumage. The belly and tail are black, and the body plumage, back of the neck and cap are a rich chestnut brown. The face and upper neck are grey, and they sport a thin but distinct white eye-ring. The extensive white in the wings is obvious in flight. The wing-coverts are brown.

Males and females look alike; juveniles are similar but have a grey bill and less contrasting belly. Due to its unique appearance, this species is almost unmistakable. With an upright stance, long pink legs, and long neck, adult black-bellied whistling-ducks are unlikely to be confused with any other bird within their range.

As the name implies, these are noisy birds with a clear whistling.

Blue-winged Teal

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Bufflehead

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Canvasback

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Cinnamon Teal

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Clark's Grebe

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Common Eider

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Common Merganser

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The common merganser is a large duck, of rivers and lakes of forested areas of Europe, northern and central Asia, and North America. It eats fish and nests in holes in trees.

It is 30 in long with a 38 in wingspan, and a weight of 2.1 kg. Males average slightly larger than females but with some overlap. It has a crest of longer head feathers, but these usually lie smoothly rounded behind the head, not normally forming an erect crest.

Common Pochard

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The Common Pochard is a medium-sized diving duck.

The adult male has a long dark bill with a grey band, a red head and neck, a black breast, red eyes and a grey back. The adult female has a brown head and body and a narrower grey bill band. The triangular head shape is distinctive. Pochards are superficially similar to the closely related North American Redhead and Canvasback.

Their breeding habitat is marshes and lakes with a metre or more water depth. Pochards breed in much of temperate and northern Europe into Asia. They are migratory, and winter in the southern and west of Europe.

These are gregarious birds, forming large flocks in winter, often mixed with other diving ducks, such as Tufted Duck, which they are known to hybridise with.

These birds feed mainly by diving or dabbling. They eat aquatic plants with some molluscs, aquatic insects and small fish. They often feed at night, and will upend for food as well as the more characteristic diving.

In the British Isles, birds breed in eastern England and lowland Scotland, and in small numbers in Northern Ireland, with numbers increasing gradually. Large numbers overwinter in Great Britain, after retreating from Russia and Scandinavia.

Common Teal

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The Common Teal is a common and widespread duck which breeds in temperate Eurasia and migrates south in winter. The Common Teal is often called simply the Teal due to being the only one of these small dabbling ducks in much of its range. The bird gives its name to the blue-green color teal.

It is a highly gregarious duck outside the breeding season and can form large flocks. It is commonly found in sheltered wetlands and feeds on seeds and aquatic invertebrates. The North American Green-winged Teal was formerly considered a subspecies of Common Teal.

The Common Teal is the smallest extant dabbling duck at 45 cm length and with an average weight of 400 gm.

The males in nuptial plumage appear grey, with a dark head, a yellowish behind, and a white stripe running along the flanks. Their head and upper neck is chestnut, with a wide and iridescent dark green patch of half-moon- or teardrop-shape that starts immediately before the eye and arcs to the upper hind neck. The patch is bordered with thin yellowish-white lines, and a single line of that color extends from the patch's forward end, curving along the base of the bill.

Eurasian Wigeon

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The Eurasian wigeon is one of three species of wigeons. It is common and widespread within its range. It is 20 in long with a 31 in wingspan, and a weight of 1 kg. The breeding male has grey flanks and back, with a black rear end, a dark green speculum and a brilliant white patch on upper wings, obvious in flight or at rest. It has a pink breast, white belly, and a chestnut head with a creamy crown. In non-breeding plumage, the drake looks more like the female. The female is light brown, with plumage much like a female American wigeon. It can be distinguished from most other ducks, apart from American wigeon, on shape. However, that species has a paler head and white axillaries on its underwing. The female can be a rufous morph with a redder head, and a gray morph with a more gray head.

Gadwall

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The Gadwall is 56 cm long with a 90 cm wingspan. The male is slightly larger than the female, weighing on average 990 g against her 850 g. The breeding male is patterned grey, with a black rear end, light chestnut wings, and a brilliant white speculum, obvious in flight or at rest. In non-breeding plumage, the male looks more like the female, but retains the male wing pattern, and is usually greyer above and has less orange on the bill.

The female is light brown, with plumage much like a female Mallard. It can be distinguished from that species by the dark orange-edged bill, smaller size, the white speculum, and white belly. Both male and female go through two moults annually, following a juvenile moult.

Garganey

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The Garganey is a small dabbling duck. It breeds in much of Europe and western Asia, but is strictly migratory, with the entire population moving to southern Africa, India (in particular) Santragachi and Australasia in winter, where large flocks can occur.

Like other small ducks such as the Common Teal, this species rises easily from the water with a fast twisting wader-like flight. Their breeding habitat is grassland adjacent to shallow marshes and steppe lakes.

The adult male is unmistakable, with its brown head and breast with a broad white crescent over the eye. The rest of the plumage is grey, with loose grey scapular feathers It has a grey bill and legs. In flight it shows a pale blue speculum with a white border. When swimming it will show prominent white edges on its tertials. His crown is dark and face is reddish-brown.

Great Crested Grebe

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The great crested grebe is the largest member of the grebe family, with some larger species residing in the Americas. They measure 20 in long with 29 in wingspan and weigh 1.5 kg. It is an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its fish prey underwater. The adults are unmistakable in summer with head and neck decorations. In winter, this is whiter than most grebes, with white above the eye, and a pink bill.

Harlequin Duck

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Hawaiian Duck

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Hooded Merganser

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King Eider

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Knob-billed Duck

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The Knob-billed Duck is an unusual, pan-tropical duck, found in tropical wetlands in sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar and south Asia from Pakistan to Laos and extreme southern China. It also occurs in continental South America south to the Paraguay River region in eastern Paraguay, southeastern Brazil and the extreme northeast of Argentina, and as a vagrant on Trinidad.

This common species is unmistakable. Adults have a white head freckled with dark spots, and a pure white neck and underparts. The upperparts are glossy blue-black upperparts, with bluish and greenish iridescence especially prominent on the secondaries (lower arm feathers). The male is larger than the female, and has a large black knob on the bill. Young birds are dull buff below and on the face and neck, with dull brown upperparts, top of the head and eyestripe.

Immature Knob-billed Ducks look like a large greyish female of the Cotton Pygmy Goose and may be difficult to tell apart if no other birds are around to compare size and hue. If seen at a distance, they can also be mistaken for a Fulvous Whistling-duck or a female Australian Wood Duck. The former is more vividly colored, with yellowish and reddish brown hues; the latter has a largely dark brown head with white stripes above and below the eye. However, Knob-billed Ducks in immature plumage are rarely seen without adults nearby and thus they are usually easily identified too.

Labrador Duck

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Laysan Duck

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Least Grebe

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Lesser Scaup

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The Lesser Scaup is a small North American diving duck that migrates south as far as Central America in winter. It is colloquially known as the Little Blue-bill or Broad-bill. It is apparently a very close relative of the Holarctic Greater Scaup or Bluebill, with which it forms a super species.

Adults are 45 cm long. Males weigh 850 g; females are a bit smaller and weigh noticeably less, 730 g. Wing lengths are about 20 cm

The adult males in alternate plumage have a black, effervescent head and a small tuft at the hindcrown, a black breast, a whitish-grey back and wings with darker vermiculations and black outer and geyish-brown inner primary remiges. The underparts are white with some olive vermiculations on the flanks, and the rectrices and tail coverts are black.

Adult females have a white band at the base of the bill, often a lighter ear region, and are otherwise dark brown all over, shading to white on the mid-belly.

Males in eclipse plumage look similar, but with a very dark head and breast, little or no white on the head and usually some greyish vermiculations on the wings. Immature birds resemble the adult females, but are duller and have hardly any white at the bill base. Both have white secondary remiges, a blue-grey bill with a black ""nail"" at the tip and grey feet; the males have a bright yellow iris, while that of females is orange or amber and that of immatures is brown. Downy hatchlings look much like those of related species, with dark brown upper-parts and pale buff underparts, chin, supercilium and back spots.

Lesser Whistling Duck

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The Lesser Whistling Duck is a species of whistling duck that breeds in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. They are nocturnal feeders and during the day may be found in flocks around lakes and wet paddy fields. They can perch on trees and sometimes build their nest in the hollow of a tree. This brown and long-necked duck has broad wings that are visible in flight and produces a loud two-note wheezy call. It has a chestnut rump.

Little Grebe

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The Little Grebe is a member of the grebe family of water birds. At 23 to 29 cm in length it is the smallest European member of its family. It is commonly found in open bodies of water across most of its range.

The Little Grebe is a small water bird with a pointed bill. The adult is unmistakable in summer, predominantly dark above with its rich, rufous colour neck, cheeks and flanks, and bright yellow gape. The rufous is replaced by a dirty brownish grey in non-breeding and juvenile birds.

Juvenile birds have a yellow bill with a small black tip, and black and white streaks on the cheeks and sides of the neck as seen below. This yellow bill darkens as the juveniles age, eventually turning black once in adulthood

Mallard

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The Mallard is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New-Zealand and Australia. This duck belongs to the waterfowl family.

The male birds have a glossy green head and are grey on wings and belly, while the females have mainly brown-speckled plumage. Mallards live in wetlands, eat water plants and small animals, and are gregarious. This species is the ancestor of most breeds of domestic ducks.

Mandarin Duck

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The Mandarin Duck is a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck. It is 50 cm long with a 75 cm wingspan.

The adult male is a striking and unmistakable bird. It has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and whiskers. The breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange sails at the back. The female is similar to female Wood Duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill.

Unlike other species of ducks, most Mandarin drakes reunite with the females they mated with along with their offsprings after the eggs have hatched and even share scout duties in watching the ducklings closely. However, even with both parents securing the ducklings, most of them do not survive to adulthood.

Masked Duck

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Mottled Duck

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Muscovy Duck

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The Muscovy Duck is a large duck which is native to Mexico and Central and South America. A small wild population reaches into the United States in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. There also are feral breeding populations in North America in and around public parks in nearly every state of the USA and in the Canadian provinces; feral populations also exist in Europe. Although the Muscovy Duck is a tropical bird, it adapts to icy and snowy conditions down to –12°C and below without ill effects.

All Muscovy Ducks have long claws on their feet and a wide flat tail. Male is about 86 cm long and weighs 7 kg, while the female is much smaller, at 64 cm in length and 4 kg in weight.

The wild Muscovy Duck is blackish, with large white wing patches. Domesticated birds may look similar; most are dark brown or black mixed with white, particularly on the head. Other colors such as lavender or all-white are also seen. Both male and female have a nude black-and-red or all-red face; the male also has pronounced caruncles at the base of the bill and a low erectile crest of feathers

Northern Pintail

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This is a large duck, and the male's long central tail feathers give rise to the species' English and scientific names. Both sexes have blue-grey bills and grey legs and feet. The drake is more striking, having a thin white stripe running from the back of its chocolate-coloured head down its neck to its mostly white undercarriage. The drake also has attractive grey, brown, and black patterning on its back and sides.

Northern Shoveler

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The Northern Shoveler is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America, wintering in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Central and northern South America. It is a rare vagrant to Australia. In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and west of this body of water, and as far south as the Great Lakes west to Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon.

This species is unmistakable in the northern hemisphere due to its large spatulate bill. The breeding drake has an iridescent dark green head, white breast and chestnut belly and flanks. In flight, pale blue forewing feathers are revealed, separated from the green speculum by a white border. In early fall the male will have a white crescent on each side of the face. In non-breeding plumage, the drake resembles the female.The female is a drab mottled brown like other dabblers, with plumage much like a female Mallard, but easily distinguished by the long broad bill, which is gray tinged with orange on cutting edge and lower mandible.

Pied-billed Grebe

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Puna Teal

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The Puna Teal is resident in the Andes of Peru, western Bolivia, northern Chile, and extreme northwestern Argentina. It is found on the larger lakes and pools.

The Puna Teal is 19 inches long, similar in size to a Mandarin or a Wood Duck. They have a black cap that extends to below the eyes. Their lower face and neck are creamy white. Their upper tail coverts are gray, and their rear flanks are dark brown with thin stripes. Back, chest and lower flanks are light coffee with dark brown spots. Their bill is large, light blue with a black line down the middle. They are sometimes kept in mixed collections but are protective of females and eggs during the breeding season.

In the wild they live in small groups of their own kind or with the closely related Silver Teal. Puna Teal lay their eggs between April and June. Like Swans and Geese both parents rear the ducklings. They lay their eggs in long grass, not always close to the water. The eggs are a creamy pink colour of which there may be several. The relationship between the male and female may be long term

Red-breasted Merganser

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Red-crested Pochard

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The Red-crested Pochard is a large diving duck. Its breeding habitat is lowland marshes and lakes in southern Europe and Central Asia, wintering in the Indian Subcontinent and Africa. It is somewhat migratory, and northern birds winter further south into north Africa.

The adult male is unmistakable. It has a rounded orange head, red bill and black breast. The flanks are white, the back brown, and the tail black. The female is mainly a pale brown, with a darker back and crown and a whitish face. Eclipse males are like females but with red bills. They are gregarious birds, forming large flocks in winter, often mixed with other diving ducks, such as Common Pochards. They feed mainly by diving or dabbling. They eat aquatic plants, and typically upend for food more than most diving ducks.

Redhead

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Ring-necked Duck

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Rosy-billed Pochard

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The Rosy-billed Pochard is a duck with a distinctive red bill on males and a slate-colored bill on females.

The Rosy-billed Pochard is endemic to South America. It is found in Argentina, central Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil. The population in southern Argentina migrates northward during the austral winter, reaching Brazil and southern Bolivia. It is a vagrant to the Falkland Islands.

Ruddy Duck

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Ruddy Shelduck

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The Ruddy Shelduck is a bird of open country, and it will breed on cliffs, in burrows, tree holes or crevices distant from water, laying 6-16 creamy-white eggs, incubated for 30 days.

It is usually found in pairs or small groups and rarely forms large flocks. However, moulting and wintering gatherings on chosen lakes or slow rivers can be very large.

It is a distinctive species, 70 cm long with a 135 cm wingspan. It has orange-brown body plumage and a paler head. The wings are white with black flight feathers.

It swims well, and in flight looks heavy, more like a goose than a duck. The male has a black ring at the bottom of the neck in the breeding season summer, and the female often has a white face patch.

Silver Bahama Pintail

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The Silver Bahama Pintail is a fairly large duck. Females-slightly duller feather color, having a lighter colored bill. Males-has brighter colored feathers and bill. Both have white cheeks and throats, the rest of the body is light brown feet and legs are gray.

Spectacled Eider

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Spot-billed Duck

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The Spot-billed Duck is a large duck with scaly pattern, with white and metallic green wing bars. Bright orange-red legs, yellow-tipped dark bill with 2 orange-red spots at the base (1 on either side of the forehead).

Seen in pairs or flock in or beside water-bodies. Food : Chiefly vegetable matter.

Steller's Eider

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Surf Scoter

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Tufted Duck

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The Tufted Duck is a medium-sized diving duck with a population of close to one million birds. The adult male is all black except for white flanks and a blue-grey bill. It has an obvious head tuft that gives the species its name. The adult female is brown with paler flanks, and is more easily confused with other diving ducks.

West Indian Whistling-Duck

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Western Grebe

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White-cheeked Pintail

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White-faced Whistling-Duck

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White-winged Duck

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White-winged duck is one of the largest species of duck. 35 in and wingspan is 60 in. Males weigh 4 kg, while females weigh 3 kg. The most noticeable feature on adult birds, is the dark body contrasting with a whitish head and neck. Males have mostly dull yellowish bill, blackish mottling on the head and upper neck, white lesser median coverts and inner edges of tertials and bluish-grey secondaries. In flight, white wing-coverts contrast with the rest of the wings. Females are smaller and usually have more densely mottled head and upper neck. The juvenile is duller and browner.

White-winged Scoter

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Wood Duck

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The Wood Duck is a species of duck found in North America. It is one of the most colorful of North American waterfowl.

The Wood Duck is a medium-sized perching duck. A typical adult is about 48 cm in length with an average wingspan of 73 cm. This is about three-quarters of the length of an adult Mallard. It shares its genus with the Asian Mandarin Duck.

The adult male has distinctive multicolored iridescent plumage and red eyes. The female, less colorful, has a white eye-ring and a whitish throat. Both adults have crested heads. When swimming, Wood Ducks bob their head back and forth in a jerking motion, which makes them easy to spot.

Their breeding habitat is wooded swamps, shallow lakes, marshes or ponds, and creeks in eastern North America, the west coast of the United States and western Mexico. They usually nest in cavities in trees close to water, although they will take advantage of nesting boxes in wetland locations if available. Unlike most other ducks, the Wood Duck has sharp claws for perching in trees and can, in southern regions, produce two broods in a single season; the only North American duck that can do so.

Females typically lay between 7 and 15 white-tan eggs that incubate for an average of 30 days. However, if nesting boxes are placed too close together, females may lay eggs in the nests of their neighbors, which may lead to nests which may contain as many as 40 eggs and unsuccessful incubation, a behavior known as ""nest dumping"".

After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her, but does not help them in any way. The ducklings may jump from heights of up to 290 ft without injury. They prefer nesting over water so the young have a soft landing, but will nest up to 140 m away from the shoreline. The day after they hatch, the young climb to the nest entrance and jump to the ground. The baby ducks can swim and find their own food by this time.

These birds feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat berries, acorns, and seeds, but also insects, making them omnivores.