Wood Duck
Aix sponsa

If there’s ever a beauty contest for ducks, the real competition will be for second place. With his variety of striking colors and bold markings, a wood duck drake will take the prize, hands-down. He looks like a carnival on wings.

Wood ducks, or woodies, almost disappeared in the early twentieth century, thanks in part to unregulated year-round shooting, but mostly because widespread timber cutting all but wiped out their nesting habitat. Woodlands are vital to their reproduction because they nest in tree cavities.

Wood ducks not only need wooded areas to nest but they feed heavily on fallen acorns in flooded timber. Woodies also eat more nuts and berries than any other duck in North America, swallowing everything whole to let the powerful grinding action of their gizzards crush the thick hard shells.

* Text sources provided by Michael McIntosh, Wild Fowl of North America, published by Brown & Bigelow Inc. St. Paul Minnesota.
Species Identification compiled by George Austin McCurry