The male Wood Duck in breeding plumage is arguably the most colorful duck in North America. Adorned with an iridescent-green head and crest, red bill, rust-colored breast and buff flanks, it is unmistakable across the continent. However, this is not always the case. Non-breeding males lose their bright colors and turn drab brown-gray, becoming reminiscent of females and juveniles. This medium-sized duck species (17-20 inches) is slightly smaller than the more familiar Mallard. Wood Ducks breeds across much of North America, especially in the east. In the west, Wood Ducks breed more locally, but may be encountered on the Pacific coast of California and in the northwest. Many Wood Ducks in the east are permanent residents, but populations breeding in Canada migrate short distances south into the U.S.In the west, Wood Ducks are more migratory, moving into the southern plains and parts of the southwest in winter. This species inhabits wetlands, lakes, and streams. Wood Ducks nest in tree cavities (often old Pileated Woodpecker nest holes), and pairs of this species must breed in wetlands near forests to ensure availability of nest sites. Wood Ducks eats a wide variety of foods, including insects, seeds, fruits, and aquatic plant matter. Wood Ducks are often found floating on the water’s surface, occasionally dabbling (submerging their head and chest while their legs and tail stick out of the water) to find food. These ducks are also capable of taking off directly from the water. They may also be found on land, where they may be observed walking, or in the air, where they may be observed making swift and direct flights through the tree canopy. Wood Ducks are most active during the day.Rights Holder
: UnknownBibliographic Citation
: Rumelt, Reid B. Aix sponsa. June-July 2012. Brief natural history summary of Aix sponsa. Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.