North American Wood Duck

ANIMAL:
North American Wood Duck Aix sponsa

Type of Animal:
Duck

Habitat:
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

Location(s):
Native to continental US, S Canada, N Mexico, Caribbean islands. Feral populations in British Isles & Iberian Peninsula.

Appearance:
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.

Food/Diet:
Seeds, nuts, acorns, aquatic plants, seeds, small fish, invertebrates, fruit, legumes, berries, grains, tadpoles, salamanders

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos & aviculture

Lifestyle:
Flocks of 10-50 birds

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Drake
Female: Hen
Young: Duckling
Group: Flock
 
Weight:
Male: 1.5 lbs
Female: 1.4 lbs
 
Gestation:
30 days 

Life Span:
3-4 years in wild, 15 years in captivity

Height:
1 ft

Body Length:
1.58-1.75 ft

Tail Length:
3.9 in

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.
North American Wood Duck, stock photo

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