Scientific Name: Aix sponsa
Description: Smaller than a mallard, the wood duck has some of the most striking plumage of all North American waterfowl. Males have an emerald green head with white striping, red eyes, red and white bill with a black tip, chestnut brown breast, dark back and buff sides. The smaller female has the same profile but is a muted grey brown with a white speckled breast and white eye stripe.
Distribution and Habitat: Wood ducks are summer residents over much of central and eastern Canada and the U.S, and year-round on the west coast and southeastern U.S. They prefer permanent wetlands, and depend on either natural tree cavities or nest boxes near water.
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Diet: Omnivores, wood ducks feed on aquatic plants, seeds and fruit, and a variety of invertebrates (insects, snails, spiders, etc.).
Life Cycle: Breeding starts in early spring with the female calling males, and the male performing courtship displays. The female lays an average of 12 eggs, which she incubates for approximately 30 days, and within 24 hours of hatching the chicks leave the nest, dropping from the nest to the ground or water below. After approximately 2 months the chicks are independent, and reach sexually maturity after 1 year.
It is common, particularly in the southern reaches of its range, for female wood ducks to lay two clutches per season.
Did you know? The wood duck has strong claws that help in gripping bark and perching on branches.