A Wood Duck is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Wood Ducks. We have also put together a list of fun Wood Duck t-shirts, Wood Duck bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.
About Wood Ducks
The Wood Duck is probably one of the most colorful birds that belong to the duck and geese family. It is found in eastern parts of North America commonly seen in woodland ponds and river swamps. The duck’s closest relative is the Mandarin duck originating from eastern Asia. The bird was almost thought extinct in the 19thcentury due to excessive hunting and loss of nesting sites but it has triumphed to healthy numbers during the 20thcentury.
Description and Identification
Wood Ducks are some of the most distinctive-looking waterfowl. In particular, male Wood Ducks have iridescent green and blue plumage, a crested head, and brown and white chest markings. Their chests feature small, white dots. Their eyes are red with black pupils. Large patches of black and white round out their elaborate plumage on their bodies and heads. The female has brown plumage with gray on its somewhat crested head. A white teardrop ring around the eye sets the female apart from other ducks, and you’ll also notice white near the edge of the dark blue area on her wings. The male’s bill may be orange, black, and white, while the female’s bill tends to be grey/black.
Wood Duck Color Pattern
The adult male has a distinguishing multicolored shimmering plumage. They can easily be spotted while birdwatching. Their eyes are red with a white flare running down their neck. The female is contrarily less colorful. It has a white around the eyes and a whitish throat. Both the adult female and male have crests on their heads.
Wood Duck Size
The Wood Duck is a perching duck that is medium in size. Adults would measure about 50cm in length with a wingspan of about 70cm. On average, they weigh about 450g when they are mature.
Wood Duck Behavior
The Wood Duck is distinctive from other types of birds as they pair up before going to the breeding grounds over spring. The pairing happens in January and is the only bird in North America that produces two broods per year.
They nest in trees near water or on trees directly over the water. They feed by submerging their heads in shallow waters in search of food or walk on land while feeding on seeds and shrubs.
What Wood Duck Eat
The Wood Duck mainly feeds on seeds and aquatic plants found in the swampy regions. They also feed on shrubs and crustaceans dominant in the swampy woodlands of North America. The diet of the Wood Duck varies, but it focuses on seeds, fruits, insects, and other types of arthropods, like crustaceans. They love aquatic plants, but if they can’t find food from the water, they will eat acorns or other nuts and grains from fields. Plants of some type constitute most of their diet. Around 20 percent is non-plant material. They eat soybeans, waterlily, duckweed, blackberries, wild cherries, water primrose, millet, smartweed, snails, flies, beetles, isopods, and caterpillars as well. Young wood ducks eat mostly insects and other invertebrates. Wood ducks can eat from diverse food sources, which helps them to adapt to different conditions.
Where Wood Ducks Live and their Habitat
They like to nest in wooded swamps, shallow inland lakes that are surrounded by deciduous as well as mixed woodlands. The duck is found in areas where large trees overhang the shallow waters creating a shady condition. If there is water, you could very well spot a wood duck. They tend to live in ponds, wooded swamps, lakes that aren’t too deep, and rivers that don’t move too quickly. If these bodies of water are surrounded by forests with deciduous trees or mixed woodland, even better. Wood ducks love the shade, so check out areas with lots of leafy overhangs. Open marshes surrounded by trees are also some of their favorite places to live. However, they’re likely to be at the edge of vegetation near water or along the shore. If you set up a nest box, you should do so with plenty of time before breeding season starts and put a guard around it to protect it.
Range and Migration
In the late 1800s, the population of Wood Ducks decreased considerably. People thought they were endangered to the point of extinction by the early 1900s, mostly because of tree felling and hunting. Nest boxes and laws written to protect them helped to increase their numbers, and their range has expanded in the north and west. Between 30 and 75 percent of wood ducks live permanently in the eastern and western U.S. Those that migrate range from New Brunswick to Georgia and Texas the West Indies. Those in the west range from British Columbia to parts of California. Some fly south to central Mexico. Those living in the interior portion of North America congregate along the Mississippi River floodplain south of Kentucky. You might even find them in Cuba, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands.
Wood Duck Lifecycle
Female Wood Ducks can lay between 6-15 eggs and incubate them for about 35 days when they hatch. The female tends to the young for 6 weeks then the young can take flight at 8 weeks after they hatch. The lifespan of an adult duck spans 15 years although few go beyond 4 years.
Male Wood Ducks are known for their colorful plumage, and they put it to work to attract females during courtship displays and posturing. Breeding pairs look for nesting spots early in the morning. The female goes in to check them out while the male stands outside. You’ll find nests near water (and up to 1.2 miles away from it) in large hollows and previously-created cavities in trees, and you may find them up to 65 feet above the ground. The cavity is covered with down to keep eggs and nestlings safe. You won’t find nests very often in barn lofts, rocks crevices, or hollow logs on the ground, but you might. Wood Ducks do use artificial nest boxes, even if they are not placed high up and are in unprotected open marsh areas.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
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.
Wood Duck 3D Paper Craft Model
This Wood Duck 3D papercraft model is a great way to learn about birds and have fun doing it. This model is like a puzzle where you have to connect the pieces together. It is designed for adults or skilled crafty teens. The difficulty level is medium to hard but is fun.
Wood Duck T-shirts
If you love the Wood Duck you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Wood Duck Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Wood Duck is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Wood Duck Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Wood Duck. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders For Wood Duck
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Wood Duck
There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.