ANIMAL:North American Wood Duck Aix sponsa
Type of Animal:
Swamps, lakes, marshes, ponds, creeks, rivers, streams, bottomlands, bottomland forest, areas w/ mix of water & forest habitats, bodies of water surrounded by woodland/forest (especially broadleaf, deciduous & mixed), forests/woodlands close to freshwater wetlands/ponds/creeks/rivers/lakes, floodplains, riparian corridors, oxbows, scrub-shrub wetlands, beaver flowages, bodies of water in mountains
Native to continental US, S Canada, N Mexico, Caribbean islands. Feral populations in British Isles & Iberian Peninsula.
Males very colorful in breeding season w/ emerald green crest w/ white stripes, multicolored body, chestnut breast, white throat, red eyes, & red & white bill. Females much drabber w/ lighter bill & brown or gray color w/ white throat/chest & white rings around eyes, sometimes have area of blue in wings. Eclipse (nonbreeding) plumage males grayish brown w/ whiter throat, smaller crest, & red & white bill.
Seeds, nuts, acorns, aquatic plants, seeds, small fish, invertebrates, fruit, legumes, berries, grains, tadpoles, salamanders
Status in Wild:
Breeding in zoos & aviculture
Flocks of 10-50 birds
Male: 1.5 lbs
Female: 1.4 lbs
30 daysLife Span:
3-4 years in wild, 15 years in captivity
Main predators of adults are canids, raccoons, raptors, snakes, crocodilians, otters, bears, felids, snapping turtles, large predatory fish, mink, skunks, & corvids. Smaller predatory fish & bullfrogs eat ducklings.
Only N American duck regularly producing 2 broods in single year.
Rather skittish birds in wild.
Brood parasitism/egg dumping not uncommon in this species, in which females dump eggs into nest of other female.
These birds were once endangered in late 1800s/early 1900s due to hunting. Now there’s more than 3 million of these birds in N America.
Males court females by swimming before them w/ wings & tail elevated.
Also called Carolina Ducks or Woodies.
Learn to fly at 2-2.5 months old, when parents leave ducklings to fend for themselves.
Like all ducks, feet thin/flat helping paddle through water.
Fun Fact(s):Aix sponsa means “waterbird in bridal dress” referring to male’s breeding plumage.
Usually nest in trees near water w/ ducklings falling 30-60 ft (sometimes as high as 250 ft) out of nest w/o any injury into water, where parents wait.
Can fly 30 miles an hour.