Wood Duck

Aix sponsa

Wood Ducks are resident species on the Mattamuskeet River National Wildlife Refuge and they live forested swamps and nest in trees near open water. They use natural cavities in trees, but will use artificial nest boxes. Their nests have openings that are 4 inches in diameter and are typically in trees between 1 and 2 feet in diameter and are located between 2 and 60 feet above the ground.

Wood Ducks nest once or twice each season and lay 6 to 19 eggs in each brood. The glossy creamy white to tan eggs are 1 ¾ to 2 ½ inches long and 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inches wide. The eggs are incubated between 28 and 37 days; the nestlings remain in the nest from 56 to 70 days. Hatchlings hatch alert with a full coat of down. They leave the nest a day after hatching by jumping out of the entrance of the nest.

Wood Ducks eat seeds, fruits, insects and other arthropods. When aquatic foods are unavailable they may take to dry land to eat acorns and other nuts from forests and grain from fields. Plant materials make up 80% or more of what the species eats. Examples of food eaten include acorns, soybeans, smartweed, water primrose, panic grass, duckweed, millet, waterlily, blackberries and wild cherries, as well as flies, beetles, caterpillars, isopods, and snails.

Wood Ducks are the most stunningly pretty of all waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. They are 18 to 21 inches long, weigh 16 to 30 ounces, and have a wingspan of 26 to 28 inches.

Facts About Wood Duck

  • Nest 1-2 times per season with 6-19 eggs per brood.
  • Diet includes seeds, fruits, insects and other arthropods.
  • Grow to 18-21 inches long and 16-30 ounces in weight.