Wood Ducks of New York

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

The wood duck gets it's name from it's behavior. Unlike most ducks and other waterfowl, the wood duck feels quit at home flying through the woods. They nest in tree cavities and can even be found sitting on the branches of trees in the woods. They are a good candidate for nesting boxes because they are a cavity nester.

Wood ducks can be found in marshes, creeks and rivers usually in wooded areas or bordering woods.

The male is beautifully colored, with green and purple on it's crested head which is outlined in white stripes. His neck is a rich burgundy that disolves from white specs to solid white on his chest and belly. His eyes are red, and his bill is red with a white stripe on the top and a black tip. He has a black back and tail with black and blue wings. The side of his body is a drab yellow just below the wings.

The females brownish head has a less pronounced crest with a distinct white patch around her eyes. Her body is also brownish with colors on her wings and tail that are similar to the male.

What Do They Eat?

Young ducklings tend to eat mostly insects, small fish, and small aquatic invertebrates then switch to plant food as they get older. Adults feed on nuts, fruits, seeds along with the foods they ate as ducklings. Acorns are a primary winter food when there is sufficient forest mast. Overall, plants make up about 80% of their diet.

Nesting and Mating

Being a cavity nester the female prefers nests tucked away in places like hollowed trees or nest boxes supplied by humans. Nest boxes put up in wooded areas near waterways work best. One of the more common nesting places are old Pileated Woodpecker holes. Females will line their nest with breast feathers.

Females lay anywhere from a half dozen to a dozen eggs. Pairs break up shortly after incubation begins, which lasts about a month (25-35 days). The young can swim and feed by themselves a day after hatching. Mom stays with them for about a month and a half, leaving them a few weeks however before they actual fledge and are able to fly.

Wood Duck Facts

  • They fly with their heads up, unlike other waterfowl that fly heads planed forward.
  • They have have the broadest wings of any duck.
  • Wood ducklings can jump from heights of up to almost 300 feet without injury.

Back to Waterfowl Identification from Wood Ducks

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