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Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Wood Duck

Aix sponsa

(Order: Anseriformes; Family: Anatidae)

Male Wood Duck (photo by Anna Balthazor)



Wood Ducks are considered the most beautiful waterfowl in North America. Males have irridescent green crested heads, orange bills, red-brown breasts and unique markings along the head, neck and body. Females have a similar head shape with a dull colored body and a speckled breast. The females also have teal-blue wingbars and a white patch around the eye.


Male Wood Duck (photo by:


Female Wood Duck (photo by:


Natural History:

Wood Ducks select mates in January and typically arrive at breeding sites in pairs. Females nest in tree cavities and nest boxes, though they have been found in unusual places such as muscrat houses. Wood Ducks are the only duck in North America that have two broods per breeding season and typically lay anywhere from 10-22 eggs. When nesting sites become sparce, females will lay eggs in another female's nest (intraspecific brood parasitism). Ducklings leave the nest by jumping to the ground, sometimes from great distances (see below video), and then travel to a water source with their mother.



(Image from:



Wooded swamps, rivers, ponds, small lakes and marshes


Nest Predators:

Raccoons, squirrels, woodpeckers and rat snakes



Wood Ducks consume insects, fruit and seeds


Conservation Status:

Least Concern


Native Status:

Native to North America



Delta Waterfowl

Cornell Lab of Ornithology





McIlquham, Carl J. and Bruce R. Bacon. 1989. Wood Duck Nest on a Muskrat House (Aix sponsa Anida Sobre una Morada de Rata Almizclera). Journal of Field Ornithology, Vol. 60, No. 1, pp. 84-8

Peterson, Roger Tory. 2008. Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. First Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston, New York.


Submitted by Anna Balthazor, July 2012

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