Overview

Brief Summary

Aix sponsa

The male Wood Duck in breeding plumage is arguably the most colorful duck in North America. Adorned with an iridescent-green head and crest, red bill, rust-colored breast and buff flanks, it is unmistakable across the continent. However, this is not always the case. Non-breeding males lose their bright colors and turn drab brown-gray, becoming reminiscent of females and juveniles. This medium-sized duck species (17-20 inches) is slightly smaller than the more familiar Mallard. Wood Ducks breeds across much of North America, especially in the east. In the west, Wood Ducks breed more locally, but may be encountered on the Pacific coast of California and in the northwest. Many Wood Ducks in the east are permanent residents, but populations breeding in Canada migrate short distances south into the U.S.In the west, Wood Ducks are more migratory, moving into the southern plains and parts of the southwest in winter. This species inhabits wetlands, lakes, and streams. Wood Ducks nest in tree cavities (often old Pileated Woodpecker nest holes), and pairs of this species must breed in wetlands near forests to ensure availability of nest sites. Wood Ducks eats a wide variety of foods, including insects, seeds, fruits, and aquatic plant matter. Wood Ducks are often found floating on the water’s surface, occasionally dabbling (submerging their head and chest while their legs and tail stick out of the water) to find food. These ducks are also capable of taking off directly from the water. They may also be found on land, where they may be observed walking, or in the air, where they may be observed making swift and direct flights through the tree canopy. Wood Ducks are most active during the day.

Threat Status: Least concern

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Distribution

Geographic Range

Aix sponsa is found on the east coast of North America from Nova Scotia in the north, to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico in the south, and west to the center of the United States. Birds in the eastern part of the range migrate southeast in the winter. Wood ducks are also found from British Columbia to the Mexican border on the west coast. They spend the winter in southern California and the Mexican Pacific coast. Wood ducks in the southern part of the range do not migrate.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDS: southern British Columbia and Alberta south to central California, northern Nevada, Idaho, and western Montana, with small number farther south to Arizona and New Mexico; also throughout most of the central and eastern U.S. and adjacent southern Canada, from Montana, Manitoba, the Great Lakes region, southern Quebec, and Nova Scotia south to Texas, the Gulf coast, and Florida, east to the Atlantic coast, west to Wyoming and Colorado; Cuba. The highest breeding densities occur in the Mississippi alluvial valley (Dugger and Fredrickson 1992). In recent decades, the breeding range expanded westward into the Great Plains region after wooded riparian corridors developed (Dugger and Fedrickson 1992). WINTERS: mostly on Pacific coast and interior California, and north to Kansas, southern Iowa, Ohio Valley, New England. The highest winter densities occur in the southern states of the Mississippii and Atlantic flyways and in California's Central Valley (Dugger and Fredrickson 1992).

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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along eastern North America, from near the southern tip of Florida to northern Nova Scotia then west across Quebec and Ontario to the southern tip of Texas
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Geographic Range

Aix sponsa is found on the east coast of North America from Nova Scotia in the north, to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico in the south, and west to the center of the United States. Birds in the eastern part of the range migrate southeast in the winter. Wood ducks are also found from British Columbia to the Mexican border on the west coast. They spend the winter in southern California and the Mexican Pacific coast. Wood ducks in the southern part of the range do not migrate.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Range

Inland waters of Canada to n Mexico, Cuba and Bahamas.

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The wood duck's breeding range includes most of the states and the
southern portions of the provinces of North America. Populations are
scarce in the western interior states, especially Utah, Arizona, and New
Mexico [5]. Breeding densities are highest in the Mississippi River
valleys [2,5]. In winter, wood ducks are found on the West Coast from
southern British Columbia to southern California, and on the eastern
coasts from southern New Jersey to southern Florida and west to
central Texas. Winter densities are high in California's Central Valley
and the southern states of the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways [5].

The Atlantic population is distributed throughout the Atlantic Flyway
states and in southeastern Canada. The Interior population is found on
the Mississippi Flyway, parts of Ontario, and the eastern tier of states
in the Central Flyway. The Pacific population is distributed from
British Columbia south to California and east to western Montana [5].
  • 2. Bellrose, Frank C. 1980. Ducks, geese and swans of North America. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. 3rd ed. 540 p. [19802]
  • 5. Dugger, Katie M.; Fredrickson, Leigh H. 1992. Life history and habitat needs of the wood duck. Fish and Wildlife Leaflet 13.1.6. Waterfowl Management Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 8 p. [20789]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
14 Great Plains
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

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Occurrence in North America

AL AZ AR CA CO CT DE GA
ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA
MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NJ NM
NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD
TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY


AB BC MB NB NS ON PE PQ
SK YT



MEXICO

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Wood ducks are small to medium sized birds. Both male and female adults have a crest on their head, a rectangular shaped tail, white bellies and white lines on the back of the wings. Males are 48 to 54 cm long, while females are 47 to 51 cm long. Their wingspans are 70 to 73 cm long and they weigh between 500 and 700 g. The sexes are dimorphic. The males' heads are iridescent green, blue and purple and have two white lines that are parallel and run from the base of the bill and behind the eye to the back of the head. Male wood ducks also have red eyes, red at the base of the bill, rust-colored chests, bronze sides and black backs and tails. The females are brownish to gray and have white eye rings, white throats and gray chests. Juvenile wood ducks resemble adult females. Wood ducks are sometimes mistaken for American widgeons (Anas americana) when flying because the white lines that wood ducks have at the back of their wings are not visible. Also female wood ducks are mistaken for female Mandarin ducks (Aix galericulata). The difference lies in the Mandarin duck's lighter gray head and less distinctive eye patch.

Range mass: 635 to 681 g.

Average mass: 600 g.

Range length: 47 to 54 cm.

Range wingspan: 70 to 73 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

Average basal metabolic rate: 2.247 W.

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Physical Description

Wood ducks are small to medium sized birds. Both male and female adults have a crest on their head, a rectangular shaped tail, white bellies and white lines on the back of the wings. Males are 48 to 54 cm long, while females are 47 to 51 cm long. Their wingspans are 70 to 73 cm long and they weigh between 500 and 700 g. The sexes are dimorphic. The males' heads are iridescent green, blue and purple and have two white lines that are parallel and run from the base of the bill and behind the eye to the back of the head. Male wood ducks also have red eyes, red at the base of the bill, rust-colored chests, bronze sides and black backs and tails. The females are brownish to gray and have white eye rings, white throats and gray chests. Juvenile wood ducks resemble adult females. Wood ducks are sometimes mistaken for American widgeons (Anas americana) when flying because the white lines that wood ducks have at the back of their wings are not visible. Also female wood ducks are mistaken for female Mandarin ducks (Aix galericulata). The difference lies in the Mandarin duck's lighter gray head and less distinctive eye patch.

Range mass: 635 to 681 g.

Average mass: 600 g.

Range length: 47 to 54 cm.

Range wingspan: 70 to 73 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

Average basal metabolic rate: 2.247 W.

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Size

Length: 47 cm

Weight: 681 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Quiet inland waters near woodland, such as wooded swamps, flooded forest, greentree reservoirs, ponds, marshes, and along streams. Winters on both freshwater and brackish marshes, ponds, streams, and estuaries (AOU 1983, Dugger and Fredrickson 1992).

Nests in holes in large trees in forested wetlands, and in bird boxes, usually within 0.5 km of water and near forest canopy openings, sometimes 1 km or more from water. Prefers cavities with an entrance size of at least 9 cm, an interior basal area of at least 258 sq cm, and a height of 2 m or more above ground (Dugger and Fredrickson 1992). Elms and maples are important habitat components in most areas because they provide protein-rich samaras in spring and suitable nest cavities. Often returns to same nesting area, sometimes same nest box, in successive years. If nest destroyed, moves to new site to renest. After young leave nest, female may led them up to several km to suitable habitat (food and cover). Shallowly flooded habitat with good understory cover is important cover for broods. Commonly lays eggs in nests of conspecifics.

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wooded swamps and river bottomlands
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Wood ducks occupy a wide variety of habitats including woodland areas along lakes, rivers, creeks, beaver and farm ponds and various other freshwater vegetated wetland areas. Because wood ducks are cavity nesters, the availability of nesting sites within one mile of water is necessary. Winter habitats are the same as those used during breeding.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp

Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian

  • Hepp, G., F. Bellrose. 1995. The Birds of North America. Philadelphia, PA: The American Ornithologist' Union and The Academy of Natural Sciences.
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Cover Requirements

More info for the terms: cover, shrubs

Wood ducks prefer sites with nest cavities within 0.3 miles (0.5 km) of
water, but will nest more than 0.6 miles (1 km) from cover if necessary.
Nest cavity trees must have a d.b.h. of greater than 12 inches (30 cm).
The nest entrance hole should be at least 6 feet (2 m) above ground, and
greater than 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) in diameter. The interior basal area
should be greater than 40 inches squared (258 cm sq) [5].

Water depths are important in brooding and breeding habitat from
mid-April to late September in the North and mid-January to late
September in the South. In breeding habitat, depth should be 3 to 18
inches (7.5-45 cm), and banks should be sheltered with shrubs. In
brooding habitat, chicks need a water depth of less than 12 inches (30
cm) so they can forage for invertebrates [13].

Ideal cover for wood ducks is provided by shrubs that hang in a dense
canopy about 2 feet (6 m) above the water surface. Downed timber can
provide year-round cover. Habitat consisting of downed timber, woody
and herbaceous plants, and interspersed water channels provides good
brood cover [13]. Optimum cover for brooding consists of 30 to 50
percent shrubs, 40 to 70 percent emergent plants, up to 10 percent
trees, and 25 percent open water [13].
  • 5. Dugger, Katie M.; Fredrickson, Leigh H. 1992. Life history and habitat needs of the wood duck. Fish and Wildlife Leaflet 13.1.6. Waterfowl Management Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 8 p. [20789]
  • 13. Sousa, P. J.; Farmer, A. H. 1983. Habitat suitability index models: wood duck. FWS/OBS-82/10.43. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 27p. [29456]

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Preferred Habitat

More info for the terms: hardwood, shrub

Wood ducks prefer wooded wetlands and forests with small lakes, ponds,
or riparian corridors, and flooded forested bottomlands. They nest in
tree cavities or man-made boxes, usually within 0.6 miles (1 km) from
water [5]. They prefer riparian areas with a large amount of shoreline
per unit area of water, and with the opposite shore at least 100 feet
(30 km) away [13]. In the Mississippi River valleys, chicks prefer water
sites where currents are less than 1 mile per hour (1.6 km/h). Chicks
less than 2 weeks old use flooded lowland forests, while older chicks
use shrub communities [13]. Breeding and brooding hens prefer sites
with ratios of 50 to 75 percent cover:25 to 50 percent open water.
Detailed habitat suitability index models have been developed for wood
ducks [13].

Wood duck preference for trees used for cavity nesting have been listed
in order of descending importance. In floodplain forests these are
baldcypress (Taxodium distichum), sycamore (Platanus spp.), silver maple
(Acer saccharinum), black ash (Fraxinus nigra), sourgum (Nyssa spp.),
and black willow (Salix nigra). On upland areas these are black oak
(Quercus velutina), red oak (Q. rubra), white oak (Q. alba), blackjack
oak (Q. marilandica), bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), and basswood (Tilia
americana) [2].

A study in northcentral Minnesota identified 31 wood duck nest cavities
and found that 21 of these were in mature (60-75 years) quaking aspen
(Populus tremuloides) stands, while the rest were in mature (100-120
years) mixed hardwood stands. Nest sites were within 1,150 feet (350 m)
of water, and entrance holes were not less than 12 feet (4 m) above
ground [8].
  • 2. Bellrose, Frank C. 1980. Ducks, geese and swans of North America. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. 3rd ed. 540 p. [19802]
  • 5. Dugger, Katie M.; Fredrickson, Leigh H. 1992. Life history and habitat needs of the wood duck. Fish and Wildlife Leaflet 13.1.6. Waterfowl Management Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 8 p. [20789]
  • 13. Sousa, P. J.; Farmer, A. H. 1983. Habitat suitability index models: wood duck. FWS/OBS-82/10.43. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 27p. [29456]
  • 8. Gilmer, David S.; Ball, I. J.; Cowardin, Lewis M.; [and others]. 1978. Natural cavities used by wood ducks in north-central Minnesota. Journal of Wildlife Management. 42(2): 288-298. [13749]

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Associated Plant Communities

More info for the term: hardwood

Wood ducks inhabit mostly forested wetland communities, such as southern
and central floodplain forests, red maple (Acer rubrum) swamps,
temporarily flooded oak (Quercus spp.)-hickory (Carya spp.) forests,
and northern bottomland hardwood sites [13].

REFERENCES :
NO-ENTRY
  • 13. Sousa, P. J.; Farmer, A. H. 1983. Habitat suitability index models: wood duck. FWS/OBS-82/10.43. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 27p. [29456]

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: swamp

1 Jack pine
14 Northern pin oak
15 Red pine
16 Aspen
21 Eastern white pine
25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
26 Sugar maple - basswood
27 Sugar maple
28 Black cherry - maple
39 Black ash - American elm - red maple
40 Post oak - blackjack oak
42 Bur oak
52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
59 Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
60 Beech - sugar maple
61 River birch - sycamore
62 Silver maple - American elm
63 Cottonwood
64 Sassafras - persimmon
65 Pin oak - sweetgum
70 Longleaf pine
75 Shortleaf pine
80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
81 Loblolly pine
84 Slash pine
88 Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak
91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak
92 Sweetgum - willow oak
93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
94 Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm
95 Black willow
96 Overcup oak - water hickory
101 Baldcypress
108 Red maple
110 Black oak
111 South Florida slash pine
210 Interior Douglas-fir
212 Western larch
213 Grand fir
215 Western white pine
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

K005 Mixed conifer forest
K006 Redwood forest
K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K013 Cedar - hemlock - pine forest
K014 Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce - fir forest
K018 Pine - Douglas-fir forest
K020 Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest
K091 Cypress savanna
K092 Everglades
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K099 Maple - basswood forest
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K101 Elm - ash forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest
K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES10 White-red-jack pine
FRES11 Spruce-fir
FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak-pine
FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES16 Oak-gum-cypress
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES18 Maple-beech-birch
FRES19 Aspen-birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES22 Western white pine
FRES25 Larch
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES27 Redwood
FRES28 Western hardwoods

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Wood ducks occupy a wide variety of habitats including woodland areas along lakes, rivers, creeks, beaver and farm ponds and various other freshwater vegetated wetland areas. Because wood ducks are cavity nesters, the availability of nesting sites within one mile of water is necessary. Winter habitats are the same as those used during breeding.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp

Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian

  • Hepp, G., F. Bellrose. 1995. The Birds of North America. Philadelphia, PA: The American Ornithologist' Union and The Academy of Natural Sciences.
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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

In the southernmost breeding range, populations are essentially nonmigratory. Northern breeding populations migrate south for winter. Southerly fall migration occurs mainly in October-November. Migrants depart south by mid-March, arrive in northern breeding areas by mid-April (Palmer 1976). In the southeastern U.S., migrates farther south in years when spring-summer precipitation is below average and habitat suitability presumably is negatively affected (Hepp and Hines 1991). Migrants may disperse east or west or northward prior to southward fall migration (Dugger and Fredrickson 1992).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Eats seeds and other parts of aquatic plants; nuts, fruits, and seeds of trees (especially acorns) and shrubs; also aquatic and land insects. Winter diet consist almost entirely of plant material, with acorns often important. Animal foods are an important part of the diet inspring and summer. Young initially eat mainly insects; also duckweed, occasionally frogs (Palmer 1976). Feeds on water and on the ground.

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Food Habits

Wood ducks are omnivores. They feed on nuts, fruits, aquatic plants and seeds, aquatic insects and other invertebrates. The majority of their food includes acorns, hickory nuts, maple seeds, smart weeds, Diptera (true flies), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Hemiptera (true bugs), Coleoptera (beetles), Isopoda (pillbugs and sowbugs), Decapoda (shrimp, crabs, and relatives), Trichoptera (caddisflies), Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, and ants), Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies), and Gastropoda (gastropods, slugs, snails).

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

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Food Habits

The majority of wood duck food consists of plant material, with a
supplement of invertebrates. During winter almost 100 percent of the
diet is plants, with an increase in animal protein (35 percent) in early
spring [5]. These percentages remain constant for males during the
summer and fall molts, but increase for females to about 80 percent
animal protein during egg laying. This percentage drops for females
during incubation, when their diet includes high-energy seeds. Wood
ducks usually will not forage in agricultural fields as long as their
native food sources are plentiful [13].

Some plant foods of wood ducks include fruits of maples (Acer spp.),
oaks, ash (Franius spp.), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), sweetgum
(Liquidambar styraciflua), baldcypress, water hickory (Carya aquatica),
buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Asiatic dayflower (Aneilema
keisak), watershield (Brassenia schreberi), barnyard grass (Echinochloa
spp.), rice cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), primrose willow (Ludwigia
leptocarpa), white waterlily (Nymphaea odorata), panicum (Panicum spp.),
smartweeds (Polygonum spp.), pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.), water bulrush
(Scirpus subterminalis), and slough grass (Sclera reticularis).
Invertebrate foods include spiders, crayfish, midges, scuds, water
boatmen, sowbugs, damselflies, dragonflies, caddis flies, and orb snails
[5,13].
  • 5. Dugger, Katie M.; Fredrickson, Leigh H. 1992. Life history and habitat needs of the wood duck. Fish and Wildlife Leaflet 13.1.6. Waterfowl Management Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 8 p. [20789]
  • 13. Sousa, P. J.; Farmer, A. H. 1983. Habitat suitability index models: wood duck. FWS/OBS-82/10.43. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 27p. [29456]

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Food Habits

Wood ducks are omnivores. They feed on nuts, fruits, aquatic plants and seeds, aquatic insects and other invertebrates. The majority of their food includes acorns, hickory nuts, maple seeds, smart weeds, Diptera (true flies), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Hemiptera (true bugs), Coleoptera (beetles), Isopoda (pillbugs and sowbugs), Decapoda (shrimp, crabs, and relatives), Trichoptera (caddisflies), Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, and ants), Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies), and Gastropoda (gastropods, slugs, snails).

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Wood ducks sometimes occupy hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) nests and when hooded merganser eggs are left in the nests, wood ducks incubate the merganser eggs as well as their own. This occurs more frequently early in the season. Wood ducks are also important prey for their predators and act as predators themselves.

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Predation

The most common predators of A.sponsa are great horned owls (Bubo_virginianus), mink (Genus Mustela), raccoons (Procyon_lotor), red foxes (Vulpes_vulpes), gray foxes (Urocyon_cinereoargenteus), alligators (Alligator_mississippiensis) and black rat snakes (Elaphe_obsoleta). Female wood ducks have an alarm call that alerts the ducklings of the presence of a predator. The ducklings will search for cover in the water while the mother swims away from them or feigns a broken wing to protect them.

Within the first two weeks of hatching, 86 to 90 percent of the chicks die. A main cause of mortality is predation.

Known Predators:

  • great horned owl (Bubo_virginianus)
  • American mink (Mustela_vison)
  • raccoons (Procyon_lotor)
  • red foxes (Vulpes_vulpes)
  • gray foxes (Urocyon_cinereoargenteus)
  • alligators (Alligator_mississippiensis)
  • black rat snakes (Elaphe_obsoleta)

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Predators

Wood duck predators include humans, mink (Mustela vison), raccoon
(Procyon lotor), fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), bullfrog (Rana
catesbeiana), snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), largemouth bass
(Micropterus floridanus), crows (Corvidae spp.), and starling (Sturnus
vulgaris) [2,5].
  • 2. Bellrose, Frank C. 1980. Ducks, geese and swans of North America. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. 3rd ed. 540 p. [19802]
  • 5. Dugger, Katie M.; Fredrickson, Leigh H. 1992. Life history and habitat needs of the wood duck. Fish and Wildlife Leaflet 13.1.6. Waterfowl Management Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 8 p. [20789]

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Ecosystem Roles

Wood ducks sometimes occupy hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) nests and when hooded merganser eggs are left in the nests, wood ducks incubate the merganser eggs as well as their own. This occurs more frequently early in the season. Wood ducks are also important prey for their predators and act as predators themselves.

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Predation

The most common predators of A.sponsa are great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), mink (Genus Mustela), raccoons (Procyon lotor), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) and black rat snakes (Pantherophis obsoletus). Female wood ducks have an alarm call that alerts the ducklings of the presence of a predator. The ducklings will search for cover in the water while the mother swims away from them or feigns a broken wing to protect them.

Within the first two weeks of hatching, 86 to 90 percent of the chicks die. A main cause of mortality is predation.

Known Predators:

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Known predators

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Known prey organisms

Aix sponsa preys on:
non-insect arthropods
Mollusca
Arthropoda
Insecta

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300

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Global Abundance

10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

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General Ecology

During migration, sometime forms roosting flocks of 100 or more; in winter, smaller groups of less than 30 are more common (Dugger and Fredrickson 1992).

High annual mortality rate (commonly 50% in adults, higher in young of year). Common predators of young include mink, raccoon, snapping turtle, bullfrog, largemouth bass, and other large predatory fishes. Summer home ranges of of fledged broods were 0-12.8 kilometers along a river (Stewart 1958). Home ranges of breeding males in Minnesota averaged 202 ha and those of unpaired males, 526 ha (Gilmer 1971).

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Habitat-related Fire Effects

More info for the terms: cover, mast, root crown, tree

Specific information regarding the effects of fire on wood duck habitat
has not been found. The author concludes that because wood ducks need
forested wetlands for cover and food, fires that substantially remove
overstory, especially that providing nesting cavities and mast, could
harm wood duck populations.

Hydric hammock communities in the South, which support wintering wood
ducks, are not as fire-dependent or adapted as neighboring pine flatwood
communities [15]. Some tree species in these hydric hammock communities
can be damaged by fire, thus becoming susceptible to fungal attack and
decay.

Red oak swamps are important for wintering wood ducks. Red oak is more
susceptible to fire than many other oak species (see FEIS DATABASE:
Quercus rubra). Severe fire may kill seedlings and sawtimber-sized red
oak; however, larger red oak sprout from the root crown and/or trunk
following such fire.
  • 15. Vince, Susan W.; Humphrey, Stephen R.; Simons, Robert W. 1989. The ecology of hydric hammocks: A community profile. Biological Rep. 85(7.26). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Research and Development. 82 p. [17976]

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Timing of Major Life History Events

Courting- before fall migration and again in spring
Age of Maturity- 1 year
Nesting- late January (South); early March (Midwest); March-April (North)
Clutch- 7 to 15 eggs; average 12; some females deposit eggs in
another female's nest (called "dumping")
Incubation- 26 to 37 days
Fledging- 56 to 70 days
Migration- some southern residents are year-round; northern populations
head south in late September and north in late February [5]
  • 5. Dugger, Katie M.; Fredrickson, Leigh H. 1992. Life history and habitat needs of the wood duck. Fish and Wildlife Leaflet 13.1.6. Waterfowl Management Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 8 p. [20789]

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

eat the seeds of the trees in flooded timber or wooded swamps, occasionally feed in fields, eating various grains
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Communication and Perception

Adult wood ducks have 12 calls, ducklings have 5. Most adult calls are used as warning calls and to attract mates. Both males and females have pre-flight calls. Females have calls that they use to locate their mate and to call their ducklings. Ducklings, who produce calls 2 to 3 days after hatching, have alarm, contact and threatening calls. By three months of age ducklings begin making some adult calls.

Wood ducks also have several courtship displays, such as the wing-and-tail-flash and mutual preening. In addition, they will display during agonistic interactions.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic

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Communication and Perception

Adult wood ducks have 12 calls, ducklings have 5. Most adult calls are used as warning calls and to attract mates. Both males and females have pre-flight calls. Females have calls that they use to locate their mate and to call their ducklings. Ducklings, who produce calls 2 to 3 days after hatching, have alarm, contact and threatening calls. By three months of age ducklings begin making some adult calls.

Wood ducks also have several courtship displays, such as the wing-and-tail-flash and mutual preening. In addition, they will display during agonistic interactions.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic

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Cyclicity

Comments: Peaks in feeding activity in morning and afternoon (Palmer 1976).

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

The average lifespan of A._sponsa is three or four years. The maximum recorded lifespan in the wild is roughly 15 years. Within the first two weeks after hatching 86 to 90% of the chicks die. One cause of mortality is predation. Hunting also accounts for some mortality, however, hunting pressures are not enough to endanger the species.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
15 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
270 months.

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Lifespan/Longevity

The average lifespan of A. sponsa is three or four years. The maximum recorded lifespan in the wild is roughly 15 years. Within the first two weeks after hatching 86 to 90% of the chicks die. One cause of mortality is predation. Hunting also accounts for some mortality, however, hunting pressures are not enough to endanger the species.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
15 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
270 months.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 22.5 years (wild)
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Reproduction

Upon arrival in breeding areas, migratory females forage intensively and built up nutrient reserves prior to nesting. Nests are initiated as early as late January in the south, early March in the Midwest, and mid-March to early April in the north. Clutch size is 9-15 (usually 10-12), but more than one female may contribute eggs to a nest, resulting in nests with many more eggs (commonly up to 30 for successful nests in nest boxes). Often two broods per year are raised in the south, occasionally in the north. Incubation lasts 27-37 days, by female. Females with broods commonly move a kilometer or more from the nest site soon after hatching. Most juvenile mortality occurs during the first few weeks after hatching. Young first fly at about 9 weeks, abandoned by parent at 1-2 months. Yearlings may breed but often unsuccessfully or not at all. Most of the above information is from Dugger and Fredrickson 1992).

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Aix sponsa shows courtship behaviors in the fall and again in the spring. Male wood ducks are serially monogamous (they stay with one female for one breeding season but mate with a different female the next year). Males use their colorful plumage to attract females. Females use a loud penetrating call to attract males. Wood ducks have several courtship displays, such as the wing-and-tail-flash and mutual preening. During the wing-and-tail-flash male wood ducks raise their wings and tails rapidly, showing their broadsides to the female. Mutual preening involves both sexes nibbling at the head and neck of their mate. After mating, the males migrate to a separate location to molt.

Mating System: monogamous

Aix_sponsa breeds in February and early March in the south and mid-March to mid April in the northern areas. In southern areas it is common for wood ducks to produce two broods in one breeding season. Copulation occurs in the water, the male mounts the female from behind and grabs her nape with his bill. Nests are built in cavities and are lined with wood chips and down. Females lay 6 to 15 eggs. It is not uncommon for a nest to have more than 15 eggs because at times other females will lay their eggs in the nests (a behavior called egg-dumping). Eggs are incubated for about 30 days and the chicks leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching. Chicks reach independence in 56 to 70 days and reach sexual maturity in one year.

Breeding interval: In southern areas it is common for wood ducks to produce two broods in one breeding season.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs in February and early March in the south and mid-March to mid April in the northern areas.

Range eggs per season: 6 to 15.

Average time to hatching: 30 days.

Range time to independence: 56 to 70 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization

Average time to hatching: 31 days.

Average eggs per season: 12.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
365 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
365 days.

Female wood ducks incubate their eggs for approximately 30 days. Ducklings hatch 6 to 18 hours after the first crack appears in their shells. They are precocial and leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching (the mother calls the ducklings out of the nest). The female makes sure that there are no predators in the area before the ducklings leave the nest. Once out of the nest, the ducklings scatter in search of food. The chicks become independent from their mothers after 56 to 70 days of care. Males do not care for the young.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; precocial ; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)

  • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, D. Wheye. 1988. The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  • Hepp, G., F. Bellrose. 1995. The Birds of North America. Philadelphia, PA: The American Ornithologist' Union and The Academy of Natural Sciences.
  • The Georgia Museum of Natural History and Georgia Department of Natural Resources. 2000. "Wood Duck, Aix sponsa" (On-line). Accessed March 29, 2003 at http://museum.nhm.uga.edu/gawildlife/birds/anseriformes/asponsa.html.
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Aix sponsa shows courtship behaviors in the fall and again in the spring. Male wood ducks are serially monogamous (they stay with one female for one breeding season but mate with a different female the next year). Males use their colorful plumage to attract females. Females use a loud penetrating call to attract males. Wood ducks have several courtship displays, such as the wing-and-tail-flash and mutual preening. During the wing-and-tail-flash male wood ducks raise their wings and tails rapidly, showing their broadsides to the female. Mutual preening involves both sexes nibbling at the head and neck of their mate. After mating, the males migrate to a separate location to molt.

Mating System: monogamous

Aix sponsa breeds in February and early March in the south and mid-March to mid April in the northern areas. In southern areas it is common for wood ducks to produce two broods in one breeding season. Copulation occurs in the water, the male mounts the female from behind and grabs her nape with his bill. Nests are built in cavities and are lined with wood chips and down. Females lay 6 to 15 eggs. It is not uncommon for a nest to have more than 15 eggs because at times other females will lay their eggs in the nests (a behavior called egg-dumping). Eggs are incubated for about 30 days and the chicks leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching. Chicks reach independence in 56 to 70 days and reach sexual maturity in one year.

Breeding interval: In southern areas it is common for wood ducks to produce two broods in one breeding season.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs in February and early March in the south and mid-March to mid April in the northern areas.

Range eggs per season: 6 to 15.

Average time to hatching: 30 days.

Range time to independence: 56 to 70 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization

Average time to hatching: 31 days.

Average eggs per season: 12.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
365 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
365 days.

Female wood ducks incubate their eggs for approximately 30 days. Ducklings hatch 6 to 18 hours after the first crack appears in their shells. They are precocial and leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching (the mother calls the ducklings out of the nest). The female makes sure that there are no predators in the area before the ducklings leave the nest. Once out of the nest, the ducklings scatter in search of food. The chicks become independent from their mothers after 56 to 70 days of care. Males do not care for the young.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; precocial ; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)

  • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, D. Wheye. 1988. The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  • Hepp, G., F. Bellrose. 1995. The Birds of North America. Philadelphia, PA: The American Ornithologist' Union and The Academy of Natural Sciences.
  • The Georgia Museum of Natural History and Georgia Department of Natural Resources. 2000. "Wood Duck, Aix sponsa" (On-line). Accessed March 29, 2003 at http://museum.nhm.uga.edu/gawildlife/birds/anseriformes/asponsa.html.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Aix sponsa

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 9 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNTAATTGGCACAGCACTCAGCCTGCTAATCCGCGCTGAACTAGGCCAGCCAGGAACCCTCCTAGGTGATGACCAAATTTATAACGTAATCGTCACCGCCCACGCCTTTGTAATAATCTTCTTCATGGTGATACCCATCATAATTGGAGGATTCGGCAACTGATTAGTCCCCCTAATAATTGGCGCCCCCGACATGGCATTCCCACGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTTTGACTCCTCCCACCCTCATTCCTTCTACTACTCGCCTCATCTACCGTAGAAGCCGGCGCCGGTACAGGCTGAACCGTGTACCCACCCCTAGCGGGCAACCTGGCCCATGCTGGGGCTTCAGTGGACCTAGCCATCTTCTCCCTCCACTTGGCCGGTATTTCCTCCATCCTCGGGGCCATTAATTTCATCACTACGGCCATCAACATAAAACCCCCCGCACTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCGCTTTTCGTCTGATCTGTCCTAATTACCGCTATCCTGCTCCTCCTGTCCCTTCCCGTCCTTGCTGCCGGCATTACAATGCTACTAACCGACCGAAACCTAAACACCACATTTTTCGATCCCGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCAATCCTGTACCAACACCTATTCTGATTCTTCGGCCACCCAGAAGTCTACATCCTAATCCTN
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Aix sponsa

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 10
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B,N5N : N5B: Secure - Breeding, N5N: Secure - Nonbreeding

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B,N5N : N5B: Secure - Breeding, N5N: Secure - Nonbreeding

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread in North America; increasing populations.

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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As a result of hunting and habitat destruction A._sponsa was near extinction in the early nineteen hundreds. Today, despite the fact that they are hunted, their population is thriving. Hunting laws have been put into place to protect them and man-made nest boxes are being created to counter their loss of habitat. Man-made nests are placed at least 600 feet apart in secluded areas where nests would occur naturally. They are made of wood, leaves and other material.

Wood ducks are protected by the US Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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As a result of hunting and habitat destruction A. sponsa was near extinction in the early nineteen hundreds. Today, despite the fact that they are hunted, their population is thriving. Hunting laws have been put into place to protect them and man-made nest boxes are being created to counter their loss of habitat. Man-made nests are placed at least 600 feet apart in secluded areas where nests would occur naturally. They are made of wood, leaves and other material.

Wood ducks are protected by the US Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Global Short Term Trend: Increase of 10 to >25%

Comments: Data from Breeding Bird Survey (1966-1994) and Christmas Bird Count (1959-1988) indicate increasing populations almost everywhere.

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Population

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Degree of Threat: C : Not very threatened throughout its range, communities often provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure over the short-term, or communities are self-protecting because they are unsuitable for other uses

Comments: Habitat destruction, market hunting, and liberal hunting seasons contributed to drastic declines; subsequent implementation of hunting restrictions, extensive nest box installation, and improved habitat conditions have allowed recovery (Dugger and Fredrickson 1992).

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Management

Restoration Potential: Good recovery potential due to high reproductive rate and ability to use nest boxes (Dugger and Fredrickson 1993).

Management Requirements: Improper flooding regimes can change tree species composition in a stand from desirable small-acorn oaks to unsuitable (for food) large-acorn oaks (Dugger and Fredrickson 1992). Timber management should provide suitable food plants and a constant supply of trees with suitable nest cavities.

Adding nest boxes to suitable habitat can significantly increase local nesting populations limited by low number of available natural cavities. Nest boxes should be maintained regularly; wood ducks do not nest in boxes that contain the debris from unsuccessful nesting attempts (Dugger and Fredrickson 1992). Because nest box maintenance can be expensive and time consuming, management for natural cavities should be encouraged. Ideal nest box spacing varies with the incidence of dump-nesting and nesting interference and with the cost of nest box maintenance. In Illinois, intraspecific brood parasitism and egg hatchability increased when nest boxes were placed in habitats and at densities resembling natural circumstances (Semel et al. 1988). See Lacki et al. (1987) for entry into literature on nest box use. See Ridlehuber and Teaford (1986) and USFWS (1976) for specifications for the construction and placement of nest boxes. See Bellrose and Holm (1994) for information on research and management techniques.

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Use of Fire in Population Management

More info for the term: hardwood

Fire is NOT recommended to rejuvenate elm-ash-cottonwood stands in
bottomlands of the north-central United States. These genera, and
others in this type, are susceptible to fire damage. Fires could lead
to loss of the bottomland hardwood stand, which is important wood duck
habitat [12].
  • 12. Myers, Charles C.; Buchman, Roland G. 1984. Manager's handbook for elm-ash-cottonwood in the North Central States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-98. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 11 p. [8919]

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Management Considerations

More info for the term: hardwood

Overmature trees and snags should be left on logging sites for wood duck
nesting cavities. Mixed stands of trees, including those producing mast
and/or providing nesting cavities, should be left on these sites. Elm
(Ulmus spp.) and maple are an important component of wood dick habitat
because they provide both [5]. Nest boxes constructed of wood, metal,
or plastic can be used in areas where cavities are limited. If placed
in direct sunlight, however, plastic or metal may reach internal
temperatures high enough to kill embryos. For detailed information on
constructing nest boxes, refer to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
[14].

In bottomland hardwood sites where flooding is controlled, it is
important to maintain a flooding regime that promotes oaks that bear
small acorns. Overcup oak (Quercus lyrata) produces large acorns which
are usually unsuitable as wood duck food [5]. Water depths in foraging
areas should be maintained at levels less than 8 inches (20 cm), but can
be deeper in resting and roosting sites. Detailed information for
managing flood-controlled wetlands for wildlife habitat across the
United States is available [4].

Bottomland hardwood sites need openings to increase the growth of mast-
producing oaks. Their growth is stunted under closed canopies [11].
Openings can be created by thinning or select cutting.

Long-term studies indicate that growth of trees on greentree reservoir
sites (GTRs) is reduced by several years of flooding. However, there
is no indication that this poses any threat to wildlife, such as
wintering wood ducks, that use GTRs. Flooding GTRs is recommended from
mid-September in the North and continuing through mid- to late October in
the South. Drawdown should begin in mid-February [11].

REFERENCES :
NO-ENTRY
  • 5. Dugger, Katie M.; Fredrickson, Leigh H. 1992. Life history and habitat needs of the wood duck. Fish and Wildlife Leaflet 13.1.6. Waterfowl Management Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 8 p. [20789]
  • 11. Moorhead, David J.; Hodges, John D.; Reinecke, Kenneth J. 1991. Silvicultural options for waterfowl management in bottomland hardwood stands and greentree reservoirs. In: Coleman, Sandra S.; Neary, Daniel G., compilers. Proceedings, 6th biennial southern silvicultural research conference: Volume 2; 1990 October 30 - November 1; Memphis, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-70. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 710-721. [17507]
  • 14. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 1976. Nest boxes for wood ducks. Wildlife Leaflet No. 510. Washington, DC. 14 p. [21465]
  • 4. Cross, Diana H. 1988. Waterfowl management guidebook. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. [Pages unknown]. [21574]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Comments: Popular with duck hunters; consistently ranks high among ducks harvested in the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways; hunting pressure has increased with decline in prairie duck populations; in the U.S., the average annual harvest before 1963 was less than 165,000, harvest in the 1980s averaged about 1,000,000 (Dugger and Fredrickson 1992).

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of A._sponsa on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Humans hunt A._sponsa and eat their meat and eggs. Because they have such colorful plumage, their feathers are sometimes used to make artificial lures for fishing. Wood ducks are also sought out by many bird watchers.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism

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There are no known adverse affects of A. sponsa on humans.

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Source: Animal Diversity Web

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Humans hunt A. sponsa and eat their meat and eggs. Because they have such colorful plumage, their feathers are sometimes used to make artificial lures for fishing. Wood ducks are also sought out by many bird watchers.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism

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Wikipedia

Wood duck

For the Australian species, see Australian wood duck.

The wood duck or Carolina duck (Aix sponsa) is a species of perching duck found in North America. It is one of the most colorful North American waterfowl.[2][3]

Description[edit]

Close up of male head
Several Wood Ducks calling

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The wood duck is a medium-sized perching duck. A typical adult is from 47 to 54 cm (19 to 21 in) in length with a wingspan of between 66 to 73 cm (26 to 29 in). This is about three-quarters of the length of an adult mallard. It shares its genus with the Asian Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata).[2]

The adult male has distinctive multicolored iridescent plumage and red eyes,with a distinctive white flare down the neck. The female, less colorful, has a white eye-ring and a whitish throat. Both adults have crested heads.

The male's call is a rising whistle, jeeeeee; the females utter a drawn-out, rising squeal, do weep do weep, when flushed, and a sharp cr-r-ek, cr-e-ek for an alarm call.[4]

Behavior[edit]

Their breeding habitat is wooded swamps, shallow lakes, marshes or ponds, and creeks in eastern North America, the west coast of the United States and western Mexico. They usually nest in cavities in trees close to water, although they will take advantage of nesting boxes in wetland locations if available. Females line their nests with feathers and other soft materials, and the elevation provides some protection from predators.[5] Unlike most other ducks, the wood duck has sharp claws for perching in trees and can, in southern regions, produce two broods in a single season—the only North American duck that can do so.[4]

Females typically lay between 7 and 15 white-tan eggs that incubate for an average of 30 days.[4] However, if nesting boxes are placed too close together, females may lay eggs in the nests of their neighbours, which may lead to nests which may contain as many as 30 eggs and unsuccessful incubation, a behaviour known as "nest dumping".[6]

After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her, but does not help them in any way.[5] They prefer nesting over water so the young have a soft landing, but will nest up to 140 m (460 ft) away from the shoreline. The day after they hatch, the young climb to the nest entrance and jump to the ground. The ducklings can swim and find their own food by this time.[citation needed]

These birds feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat berries, acorns, and seeds, but also insects, making them omnivores.[5]

Distribution[edit]

The birds are year-round residents in parts of its southern range, but the northern populations migrate south for the winter.[7][8] They overwinter in the southern United States near the Atlantic coast. 75% of the wood ducks in the Pacific Flyway are non-migratory.[9] They are also popular, due to their attractive plumage, in waterfowl collections and as such are frequently recorded in Great Britain as escapes—populations have become temporarily established in Surrey in the past but are not considered to be self-sustaining in the fashion of the closely related Mandarin duck.[citation needed] Given its native distribution the species is also a potential natural vagrant to Western Europe and there have been records in areas such as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly which some observers consider may relate to wild birds; however, given the wood duck's popularity in captivity it would be extremely difficult to prove their provenance one way or another.[citation needed] There is a small feral population in Dublin.[citation needed]

Conservation[edit]

The population of the wood duck was in serious decline in the late 19th century as a result of severe habitat loss and market hunting both for meat and plumage for the ladies' hat market in Europe. By the beginning of the 20th century, wood ducks had virtually disappeared from much of their former range. In response to the Migratory Bird Treaty established in 1916 and enactment of the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, wood duck populations began to recover slowly. By ending unregulated hunting and taking measures to protect remaining habitat, wood duck populations began to rebound in the 1920s. The development of the artificial nesting box in the 1930s gave an additional boost to wood duck production.[10]

Landowners as well as park and refuge managers can encourage wood ducks by building wood duck nest boxes near lakes, ponds, and streams. Fulda, Minnesota has adopted the wood duck as an unofficial mascot, and a large number of nest boxes can be found in the area.[citation needed]

Expanding North American beaver populations throughout the wood duck's range have also helped the population rebound as beavers create an ideal forested wetland habitat for wood ducks.[9]

The population of the wood duck has increased a great deal in the last several years. The increase has been due to the work of many people constructing wood duck boxes and conserving vital habitat for the wood ducks to breed. During the open waterfowl season, U.S. hunters have only been allowed to take two wood ducks per day in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways. However, for the 2008–2009 season, the limit was raised to three. The wood duck limit remains at two in the Central Flyway and at seven in the Pacific Flyway. It is the second most commonly hunted duck in North America, after the mallard.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2013, the Royal Canadian Mint created two coins to commemorate the wood duck. The two coins are each part of a three coin set to help promote Ducks Unlimited Canada as well as celebrate its 75th anniversary.[11]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Aix sponsa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Wood Duck". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  3. ^ Dawson, William (2007). Neher, Anna, ed. Dawson's Avian Kingdom Selected Writings. California Legacy. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-1-59714-062-1. 
  4. ^ a b c "Wood Duck". Ducks Unlimited Canada. Retrieved 4 February 2011. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b c "Wood Duck Fact Sheet, Lincoln Park Zoo". Lpzoo.org. Retrieved 2013-08-24. 
  6. ^ "Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) Dump-Nests". Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Wood Duck[dead link], Hinterland's Who's Who
  8. ^ Wood Duck, BirdWeb
  9. ^ a b "Wood Duck". BirdWeb: The Birds of Washington State. Seattle Audubon Society. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) (Report). USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/WHMI/WEB/pdf/woodduck%281%29.pdf. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  11. ^ "Royal Canadian Mint Coins Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Ducks Unlimited Canada While Honouring Other Icons of Canadian Nature, Culture And History". Mint.ca. Retrieved 2013-08-24. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: See Livezey (1991) for a phylogenetic analysis and classification (supergenera, subgenera, infragenera, etc.) of dabbling ducks based on comparative morphology.

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The currently accepted scientific name for wood duck is Aix sponsa
Linnaeus [1]. There are no recognized subspecies [5].
  • 5. Dugger, Katie M.; Fredrickson, Leigh H. 1992. Life history and habitat needs of the wood duck. Fish and Wildlife Leaflet 13.1.6. Waterfowl Management Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 8 p. [20789]
  • 1. American Ornithologists' Union. 2004. The A.O.U. check-list of North American birds, 7th edition, [Online]. American Ornithologists' Union (Producer). Available: http://www.aou.org/checklist/index.php3 [2005, January 10]. [50863]

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Common Names

wood duck

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