Information

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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.

Photos

Wood Duck, Mysore Zoo
Wood Duck, Fort Worth Zoo

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