Living Bird Magazine
Wood DuckAix sponsa
- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
The Wood Duck is one of the most stunningly pretty of all waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Wood Ducks around the edges of swamps, sluggish streams, overgrown beaver ponds, and wood-fringed marshes. They're less likely to be out on a large stretch of open water. They pick their way around vegetation growing out of the water or stand on tree branches or logs along the shorelines. Look for their distinctive oblong head shape. In flight they have a distinctive pattern: dark underwings and chest with a contrasting bright belly.
- Pato Joyuyo (Spanish)
- Canard branchu (French)
Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.
- Cool Facts
- Natural cavities for nesting are scarce, and the Wood Duck readily uses nest boxes provided for it. If nest boxes are placed too close together, many females lay eggs in the nests of other females.
- Wood Ducks pair up in January, and most birds arriving at the breeding grounds in the spring are already paired. The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year.
- The Wood Duck nests in trees near water, sometimes directly over water, but other times over a mile away. 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 over 50 feet without injury.
- The oldest recorded Wood Duck was a male and at least 22 years, 6 months old. He had been banded in Oregon and was found in California.