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What's Moving with Madi

January 23, 2023

Wood ducks (Aix sponsa) are regarded as one of the most beautiful ducks in North America. Males are brightly colored with a green head, red beak, and bright white accents around their neck and wings. Female wood ducks are a smokey grey color with a black beak and white rings around their eyes. Both male and female wood ducks have amazing, iridescent blues and purples along their wings. Wood ducks are a medium sized bird and have a crested head, with the male's head shape being more pronounced. Their wings are shorter than other duck species making it easier for them to dodge tree branches.

It is important for wood ducks to maneuver through the trees as they prefer to nest in hollow areas in living and dead trees known as cavities. Wood ducks will readily use man-made duck boxes when they are placed in ideal locations. These ducks tend to be found in forested wetlands like swamps, marshes, creeks, and beaver ponds. When duck boxes are placed close together, females will lay eggs in the nests of other females. This behavior is known as nest parasitism or brood parasitism. Brood parasitism is a reproductive strategy some birds use to improve their chances of passing down their genetic material to the next generation.

Wood ducks pair up with their mate in January and begin breeding in early spring. Females can lay nine to 14 eggs per brood and are the only duck in North America that can regularly produce two broods in one year. After ducklings hatch they will jump from their nests to the ground and make their way to the water, this happens within a day of hatching. Ducklings can jump from heights of 50 feet and over! They are not harmed from the fall because of their small size and weight. Mother ducks call to their ducklings but they do not help in the process of leaving the nest.

Want to learn more about the wood duck? Check out the links below!

Big thanks to Cindy King for providing us with these wonderful wood duck pictures!

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