• Type: Puddle Duck
• Peak breeding activity: February and early March in the south and mid-March to mid-April in the northern areas.
• Incubation period: 25-35 days
• Clutch Size: 9 to 14
No bird is more colorful than the male wood duck. His crested head is an iridescent green with bold white facial markings; the breast is red with white spots; the sides are striped with gold; and his back is a metallic blue or purple. The base of his relatively short bill and his eyes are bright red. The gray female can be identified by her crested head and white eye-ring. In flight the long square tail and downward pointing bill are distinguishing features. In the late summer molt (during which ducks cannot fly) the males acquire an eclipse plumage, which is similar to the females'.
Habitat and Habits
As their name implies, wood ducks prefer mature riparian corridors along streams, quiet backwaters of lakes and ponds bordered by large trees, and secluded wooded swamps as the habitats for raising the young. They fly through thick timber with speed and ease and often feed on acorn, berries, and grapes on the forest floors. The flocks of this species are usually small. In the air, their wings make a rustling, swishing sound. Drakes call hoo-w-ett, often in flight. The hens have a cr-r-ek when frightened.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
The wood duck's habit of nesting in cavities enables it to breed in areas lacking suitable ground cover. Most nests are adjacent to or over water. The first broods normally appear during the first half of May. The young leave the nest soon after hatching, jumping from the nesting cavity to the ground. However, they are not capable of flight until they are eight or nine weeks of age.