Wood Duck

wood duck floating in a green swamp
Wood duck in a swamp

NPS Photo

Aix sponsa

Wood ducks are some of the most easily identified ducks in North America because of their bright coloration. Males are more brightly patterned than females. They are often found near wetlands or water sources. They forage for food on the surface of the water or walking on land, unlike many ducks which forage for food beneath the water. They mainly eat vegetation such as berries or acorns but will also eat insects. Unlike most ducks, they have sharp claws that allow them to perch in trees.

Female wood ducks will lay seven to fifteen eggs at a time and may lay two clutches of eggs per year in warmer southern regions. They lay eggs in hollows in trees and incubate eggs there for about a month. Once the ducklings hatch, they will climb out of the tree and jump to the ground. They are born with the ability to swim and find their own food, but still remain near their mother for a while after hatching.

Ball, I. J., Gilmer, D. S., Cowardin, L. M., & Riechmann, J. H. (1975). Survival of wood duck and mallard broods in north-central Minnesota. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 776-780.

Clawson, R. L., Hartman, G. W., & Fredrickson, L. H. (1979). Dump nesting in a Missouri wood duck population. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 347-355.

Dugger, K. M., & Fredrickson, L. H. (1992). 13.1. 6. Life history and habitat needs of the Wood Duck.

Johnsgard, P. A. (1960). Hybridization in the Anatidae and its taxonomic implications. The Condor, 62(1), 25-33.

Last updated: April 21, 2021

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