I look appreciate the Wood Duck only because it seems so accommodating to a nature photographer. Unlike many ducks that fly silently past, the Wood Duck will often announce that it is coming with its piercing call. I’m grateful the advance warning. The markings of both the male and female always make getting a good shot of a Wood Duck worth a trip to the marsh.
If you’d like to know more about the Wood Duck like I did, here are a few facts that I’ve gathered.
- The Wood Duck is also known as the Carolina Duck
- The Wood Duck’s breeding habitat is wooded swamps, shallow lakes, marshes or ponds, and creeks
- Wood Ducks feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat berries, acorns, and seeds, but also insects, making them omnivores.
- Unlike most other ducks, the Wood Duck has sharp claws for perching in trees
Wood Ducks usually nest in cavities in trees close to water, although they will take advantage of nesting boxes in wetland locations if available
- Female Wood Ducks typically lay between 7 and 15 white-tan eggs that incubate for an average of 30 days. However, if nesting boxes are placed too close together, females may lay eggs in the nests of their neighbors, which may lead to nests which may contain as many as 30 eggs and unsuccessful incubation, a behavior known as “nest dumping”.
- Wood Ducks, in southern regions, produce two broods in a single season—the only North American duck that can do so
- After hatching, the Wood Duck ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The ducklings may jump from heights of up to 290 ft without injury. They prefer nesting over water so the young have a soft landing, but will nest up to 150 yd away from the shoreline.
- The Wood Duck was hunted nearly to extinction during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Management procedures have been successful and there are now well over a million Wood Ducks in North America.