Wood Duck

Aix sponsa

Wood DuckThe wood duck is Minnesota's most colorful duck. It is commonly found near lakes and wooded potholes, where nuts, berries and other food sources are easily found. Wood ducks nest throughout Minnesota and readily use man-made nest boxes.

Identification

General description: A small perching duck, the male has blue-green crested head with white stripes, a reddish brown breast, broad wings and a long square tail.

Length: About 20 inches.

Weight: One and a half pounds.

Color: Females (hens) are brown with a crest and distinctive white eye ring.

Sounds: A distinctive "wee-e-e-e-k, wee-e-e-e-k" whistle by the hen is the most commonly heard wood duck sound.

Reproduction

Wood ducks nest in hollow trees. Female wood ducks pluck down from their breasts to line the nest, where they lay 10 to 15 eggs during the spring; hatching takes place 28 to 31 days later. Ducklings begin to fly eight to 10 weeks after hatching.

Food

Wood ducks eat acorns, weed seeds, berries, insects, and plants.

Predators

Mink, raccoons, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and human hunters.

Range MapHabitat and range

Wooded river bottoms, flooded hardwood forests and wooded potholes and lakes. Wood ducks nest throughout the United States and southeastern Canada. They spend the winter in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, and other southeastern states ,as well as in California.

Population and management

Biologists believe more than 100,000 wood ducks breed in Minnesota each spring. The wood duck was once almost extinct because of habitat loss due to the lack of old, dead trees where these ducks nest. But management efforts, such as the use of artificial nest boxes, have helped restore wood duck populations. Minnesota has a regulated hunting season. In 1999, hunters harvested 124,300 wood ducks in Minnesota.

Fun facts

Wood ducks are also called woodies. These ducks have a mild flavor, and are considered very good to eat.