The Wood Duck is an animal
and intriguing features. You might also hear them referred to by other nicknames such as "woodie", "summer duck", "acorn duck", "swamp duck" or "squealer". They are found mainly in river
s and wooded swamp
s. Wood ducks live in areas from the tip of Florida
to northern Nova Scotia
(the east coast
of North America
), as well as in Quebec
, southern Texas
and from two-thirds from California
to southern British Columbia
The Wood duck or Aix sponsa, has the classification as follows:
On average, Wood ducks weigh between 1 and 2 pounds and measure about 20 inches (the male is slightly larger than the female though), living roughly 2 years. The male (known as the "Drake") has amazing colors that includes green, bronze, purple and white with striking red eyes. They have been known to be called "a waterfowl in a wedding dress". The female (known as the "Hen") however, is not as vibrant and consists of mainly light brown and grey with a while teardrop-shaped eye ring. Her drabness is mostly due to the protection of drawing attention to her nest and young. Both male and female have distinguished crests that extend outward from the back of the head. Their wings are a tad broader than those of the average ducks, which gives them the ability to twist and turn their way through tree braches. Also, since these ducks both swim and perch, their feet have claws for perching and the common webbed feet for swimming.
Most of their flights do not surpass the treetops and are very short and direct. Also, their calls are very high pitched and differ based on meaning. These ducks live off the land, and eat mostly the seeds that grow on the trees which live in their area. This includes things such fruits and nuts from oak, hickory and beech trees, also seeds from other water plants, duckweed and pondweed. Wood ducks might also eat wheat and corn from fields on occasion.
Getting Little Wood Ducks
Wood ducks start breeding at one year of age and mate between the months of March to July. Unlike normal ducks, Wood ducks make their nests in tree cavities or even man-made nesting boxes. These nests/boxes can be anywhere from 2 to 65 feet off the ground. They are usually located close to water or on poles that make it difficult for predators such as raccoons to get into range of the eggs. A normal clutch size is 13 eggs (between 5 and 16). The incubation period is roughly 30 days.
The female will then brood the young for 24 hours then proceed to call them from the nest. When being called for the first time, the young let out small peeps as they make their way to the nest entrance. The young then jump from the nest to the surface below (either water or land) amazingly without getting hurt. If it is not water, they are then led to the water (which can take a number of hours). The bonds between the young start to dissolve at 5 weeks, and then young are soon fully feathered and start to fly at 8 to 10 weeks of age.
The male plays little role in incubating and raising the young, but each year the male will follow his female back to their original breeding-ground. Even thought it has been a whole year, they have the ability to go back to the same spot every year. Once and a while, there will be a nest that will contain 30 to 50 eggs - these are known as "dump" sites are usually abandoned. However, if they are incubated properly it can significantly increase production.
Unfortunately the Wood duck was heavily hunted while at the same time quickly losing their natural habitats back in the early 1900's which brought them to the brink of extinction. Also, the introduction of the European Starling did a great deal of damage since these birds would invade the nest areas and take them over, preventing the production of new Wood ducks. Thanks to a number of strict hunting laws and the production of Wood duck boxes helped to slow down the disappearance of these beautiful creatures.
- Personal Knowledge