Wood Duck

Aix sponsa

Image of a wood duck stood near the water.
Image by ‘DickDaniels‘ from theworldofbirds.org, CC BY-SA 3.0

Physical: Wood ducks can be recognized by their ornate and colorful plumage. Both males and females have strikingly colored wings, a vibrant dark blue patch and black and white patterns. Males have a black head with an iridescent green crest, white streaks, and a chestnut brown chest. Females are brown with a grey crested head and a white teardrop ring around the eyes.

Habitat: Prefers woodland waterways, swamps, slow-moving rivers, and shallow ponds. Their range spans from southern Canada to Mexico and Cuba. Northern birds migrate seasonally, but the Barnegat Bay wood ducks live here year round.

Feeding: Wood ducks eat mostly seeds, from both aquatic plants and terrestrial trees and shrubs. Many eat acorns, and fly to farms to eat leftover waste grain. Young ducks eat mostly insects and other invertebrates.

Breeding: Males pair up with females in the wintering grounds and return with them to their native nesting grounds. They display their plumage to females to attract a mate. Wood ducks build nests in large tree cavities, as well as human-built nest boxes. Females lay anywhere from 9-15 eggs, sometimes in other wood duck nests or unincubated dump nests. They incubate their clutch for 25-35 days.

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