Male Wood Ducks are colorful birds that are famously found in wetland habitats. For decades, they have undergone mass harvesting, due to the demand for their delicious meat. These medium-sized ducks either forage on land or in bodies of water. Southern Wood Ducks do not migrate, but Wood Ducks from colder regions migrate south in order to protect themselves from the cold. In the past, there was a great demand for their fur which was used to make women’s hats. Let’s look at some interesting facts about these attractive birds!
10 Amazing Facts About Wood Ducks
1. There was massive decline in the Wood Duck population in the late 19th century!
Wood Ducks were an extremely widespread species of ducks until the late 19th century, after which populations experienced a steep decline. This decline was mostly noticed in urban populations, and the main reason was that they were being over-harvested. Wood Duck populations were also affected by the loss of certain habitats and deforestation. Their populations during this period were actually larger than perceived because a fair portion of these birds resided in remote swamps. Ornithologists were convinced this species would be extinct, but their populations bounced back once limits were placed on the legal harvesting of this species.
2. Nest dumping commonly leads to unsuccessful incubation of their eggs!
On average, females lay 7-15 eggs which need around a month to incubate. When nesting boxes for Wood Ducks are placed in close proximity to one another, it might result in nest dumping. Nest dumping is a phenomenon in which a bird lays their eggs in the nests of neighboring birds that already have eggs in them. As a result of this, as many as 30 eggs can be found in certain nests, which become impossible to incubate successfully.
3. Younglings dismount from nest cavities by themselves!
Females begin training their young right after they hatch. When the hatching process is complete, these ducks are called by their mother, but she does not help them in coming down from the tree. Following the calls of the mother, the hatchlings climb down and find their way into the water. Due to this behavior, Wood Ducks only nest over water so that their nestlings don’t harm themselves on the way down from the tree. These hatchlings grow very rapidly, and don’t require much time to become independent.
4. It’s illegal to abandon Wood Ducks in the wild in Wales and England!
Authorities in England and Wales consider this species to be invasive, just like the Mandarin Duck. They prefer to keep these birds in captivity since they are often in high demand because of their attractive plumage. Wild Wood Ducks have been observed in some regions of Scotland, Sicily, and Cornwall.
5. Wood Ducks experienced a massive decline in the late 19th century!
Several factors were leading to a steep decline of Wood Duck populations in the late 19th century. Mass market hunting was putting pressure on their populations when they were already in decline. This hunting was done in order to obtain their delicious meat and their unique plumage to make women’s hats.
6. Nesting boxes have led to a steady increase in their populations!
The nesting box was invented in 1930. Wood Duck populations steadily increased because of this invention. Park managers and landowners still build these boxes near lakes and ponds to attract Wood Ducks. The conservation of Wood Duck habitats has also been instrumental in increasing their numbers. Some authorities have put restrictions on hunting these birds but, they are still the second most hunted ducks in North America.
7. Wood Ducks have been commemorated with two beautiful coins!
The Royal Canadian Mint celebrated their 75th anniversary by making two coins displaying Wood Ducks. These coins are a part of 3 duck coin set. The purpose of this commemoration was also to promote a nonprofit organization called “Ducks Unlimited.”
8. They are the only North American ducks that can produce two broods in one season!
Wood Ducks generally breed in habitats such as ponds, creeks, marshes, and wooded swamps. These birds often nest in tree cavities close to the water. They also use nest boxes when they are available. Sometimes, other birds and animals compete with them for their nest boxes. If squirrels or birds of prey try to inhabit a nesting box, these ducks will nest a mile away from the body of water that they were near. Females carefully line their nests with their own feathers and other soft materials to shield newly-hatched Wood Ducks from a painful fall. Wood Ducks also nest at such heights in order to have some protection against predators. Once these birds are settled, they often raise two broods successfully.
9. An increase in North American Beaver populations has been beneficial for Wood Ducks!
North American Beaver populations have been on the rise which is good news for Wood Ducks. These beavers aren’t harmful to the ducks and they create a habitat that is ideal for the Wood Ducks to reside in.
10. Unlike other ducks, they can perch in trees!
Have you ever heard of a duck perching in a tree? It is a shocking yet marvelous sight to spot these ducks perching in trees. They are able to do this because of their sharp claws which give them a tight grip.
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Wood Ducks
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Wood Ducks are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.