Tuesday, November 4, 2014
A Brief Look at The Wood Duck
Photo by: Michael Dossett
The Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) pictured above. One of Ohio's most recognizable waterfowl species. The drake (male) on the left is often referred to as one of the most beautiful ducks we have with it's iridescent crest with white outlining streaks, red eye, chestnut colored chest, black, blue, and purple back. The hen (female) on the right, you'll notice is much duller in color. This is to ensure she is concealed during the nesting season to help protect herself and her ducklings. Wood Ducks are also easily recognizable by their voice too, here is a video that both shows the Wood Duck then you'll hear the hen's famous " shriek" along with a hen Mallard in the background. www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A9CdBEaGsk.Wood Ducks are very gregarious (friendly) birds and you'll often find them with other puddle ducks like Mallards, Black Ducks, and Teal species.
The diet of a Wood Duck can vary depending on where it's at. Wood Ducks are omnivores which means they'll eat both plants and animals. They are also puddle ducks which means they will "bob" for food and skim the water collecting food in their bill. They like aquatic insects and macro-invertebrates that live in the wetlands and streams they inhabit. Wood Ducks will also eat a variety of plants like duckweed, water meal, smartweed, acorns, and agricultural crops such as corn.
Where can I find Wood Ducks you may ask. A variety of similar habitats, Wood Ducks like wetlands, swamps, marshes, shallow ponds, and a variety of streams. Especially if there's a food source in or near by. You typically won't see them out in the middle of a big pond like some diving duck species. Wood Ducks like water that's shallower with cover, whether that's american lotus, spatterdock, button bush, or fallen trees in the water they like to have some sort of cover.
Wood Ducks are cavity nesting birds, you'll often see them up on tree limbs near wetlands, marshes, and streams in the spring time probably because they've got a clutch of eggs in a hole somewhere in a tree. Nest heights can vary anywhere from 2-50 feet above the ground. The Wood Duck is the only duck in North America that can hatch two broods of young in one year. A typical clutch size is 6-16 whitish tan eggs. incubation of the eggs takes 28-37 days and the nesting period for these ducks is 56-70 days. After the nesting period is over the ducklings will fledge the nest by jumping from the nest and landing on the ground or in the water. Something you can do to encourage nesting on your property is by placing nesting boxes near optimum Wood Duck habitat here's a link to nest box plans for Wood Ducks and many other wildlife species http://forestandrange.org/new_wetlands/pdfs/Ohio_DNR_nest_plans.pdf. These nest box plans make for a great family activity.
For more information on Wood Ducks or any other species of concern, feel free to contact me here at the office at 740-435-0408 ext. 6892 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!