Aix sponsa
(Wood Duck)

Order: Anseriformes
Order Description: Swans, Geese, Ducks
Family: Anatidae
Family Description: Swans, Geese and Ducks

Physical Description:
Size: 10-21" (43-52 cm). Male is unmistakable, brightly colored with a long, swept-back crest. Neatly striped faced pattern of green, white and dark purple. Throat and breast chestnut. Bold, white, vertical line seperating chestnut breast from buffClick word for definition flanksClick word for definition and bark brown wings and back. Females dark above and lighter brown below. Distinct white eye patch. In flight: stocky build, white belly, dusky wings and long, square tail.

Similar Species- Male distinct. No other freshwater duck has a white eye patch like the female Wood Duck.

Male gives a clear, hissing whistle which rises in pitch. When distressed, male gives a Whoo-eeek! Female a low Creek!

Breeds from southern British Columbia and Alberta, south to central California and northern Idaho, and throughout most of eastern U.S. and adjacent southern Canada. Winters mostly on Pacific Coast and interior California, north to Kansas, southern Iowa, Ohio Valley, and New England.

Found near woodlands on quiet, inland waters such as wooded swamps, flooded forests, ponds, marshes, and along streams. In Idaho, occupies wooded streams, flooded marshes, and lake margins. Winters on both freshwater and brackishClick word for definition marshes, ponds, streams, and estuaries.

Eats seeds and other parts of aquatic plants, nuts (especially acorns), fruits, shrubs, and aquatic and land insects. Young initially eat mainly insects, but may also eath duckweed, and, occasionally, frogs

Builds nest in tree cavity, or may sometimes use cavity left by other species. Forages in shallow water. High annual mortalityClick word for definition rate (commonly 50% in adults, higher in young-of-year). In Idaho, species has adapted well to nest boxes (which enhance local populations), is largely absent from southern Idaho (where suitable habitat is lacking), but occurs commonly in northern Idaho during nesting season and migration.

Female incubatesClick word for definition 9-15 eggs (usually 10-12) for 27-37 days. Young first fly at about 9 wk, and are abandoned by parent at 1-2 mo. yearlingsClick word for definition may breed, but are often unsuccessful. Female often produces 2 broods/yr in southern range, and 1 (occasionally 2), in north.

Element Code: ABNJB09010
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
National Rank: N5B,N5N

Important State References:
Gadwa, G.U. 1977. Experimental transplanting of wild wood duck hens and broods in northern Idaho. M.S. Thesis, Univ. Idaho, Moscow. 33pp.

Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.