Wood Duck

Aix sponsa

Birding.com

Wood Ducks are best known by the bright colors that males show during the breeding season. A combination of purple, green, blue, red, white, and black make this a fascinating and beautiful animal.

Female Wood Ducks, and males outside of breeding season, have much plainer coloring of brown and gray. Males can still be told apart from females by their white neck patch.

Wood Ducks can reach a length of twenty inches.

Gary Hepp

Wood Ducks, like most ducks, live near water. They can be found at ponds and marshes, but also wooded rivers and large streams.

Unlike most ducks, Wood Ducks nest in trees. They usually nest in a cavity, such as an old woodpecker hole. Wood Ducks may use just about any type of tree, but the ones most commonly used include: American Sycamore, Southern Red Oak, White Oak, Black Oak, Silver Maple, Black Willow, and American Basswood.

Wood Ducks do not go to a lot of trouble to make a nest. They only use wood chips and feathers. A female duck may lay up to 15 whitish eggs. Young ducks leave the nest soon after hatching, and they are cared for by their mother.

Ducklings eat mostly insects, crayfish, worms, and small fish. As they get older, Wood Ducks switch to mostly vegetable matter, including: algae, pondweeds, duckweed, other aquatic plants, acorns, hickory nuts, Sweetgum seeds, American Elm seeds, Buttonbush, beggar-ticks, bulrushes, sedges, maple seeds, Wild Grape, beechnuts, water lilies,Switchgrass, and other seeds, nuts, and fruits.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Fred Siskind, Huntley Meadows Park

Warren Greene, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Wood Ducks are shy and stay hidden among cover most of the day. Water plants used as cover include: cattails, sedges, reeds, Yellow Pond Lily, Pickerelweed, and Lizard's Tail. Trees, vines, and shrubs along the water's edge also provide good cover, such as: Black Willow, Silver Maple, American Sycamore, White Oak, Sassafras, Poison Ivy, Highbush Blueberry, and Wild Grape.

Predators of Wood Ducks include: owls, Red Fox, Raccoon, Common Snapping Turtle, large fish, snakes, and squirrels. They are most vulnerable when they are young. Eggs may be destroyed by woodpeckers or starlings.

Wood Ducks live year-round in Northern Virginia, but they may change locations according to food sources, water levels, and good cover.

Copyright, John White, California Academy of Sciences

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Wood Duck Call
Sound
www.naturesongs.com
Wood Ducks
Video
Gregory Gough
Download Quicktime if you are unable to play video.

Relationships in Nature:

PREY/FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Large Diving Beetle

Barred Owl

Yellow Pond Lily

Pileated Woodpecker SP

Eastern Dobsonfly

Black Rat Snake

Common Cattail

Red-bellied Woodpecker SP

Green Darner

Red Fox

Common Reed

Copepod C

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Tussock Sedge

Crane Fly

Pileated Woodpecker

Poison Ivy

Crayfish

Raccoon

Black Willow

Freshwater Leech

Common Snapping Turtle

Pickerelweed

Green Algae

Largemouth Bass

Lizard's Tail

Long-leaf Pondweed

Channel Catfish

Spotted Jewelweed

Yellow Pond Lily

European Starling

Devil's Beggar-tick

Tussock Sedge

Bald Eagle

Silver Maple

Common Duckweed

White Oak

Black Oak

American Sycamore

Red Maple

Black Oak

American Beech

Southern Red Oak

Buttonbush

Sassafras

Devil's Beggar-tick

Switchgrass

Wild Rice

Marsh Bulrush

America Elm

Buttonbush

Swamp Rose Mallow

Swamp Rose Mallow

Relationship to Humans:

Besides being beatiful animals which people enjoy, Wood Ducks help control populations of insects and other animals.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Bird
ORDER
Anseriformes
FAMILY
Anatidae
GENUS
Aix
SPECIES
Aix sponsa

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