It is definitely a treat to see a Wood Duck. The drake, with iridescent chestnut and green colors, bright multi-colored bill, and detailed patterns in every feather, are found in wooded swamps, marshes, streams, and small lakes. The hen, with a delicate eye ring, are elegant as well. I have seen a lot of Wood Ducks in my area but a nice, detailed, portrait has escaped me so far. The photos in this blog post were shot at dusk at a distance of 75 yards so my goal of a beautiful portrait is still intact.
Wood Duck (male)
Wood Ducks are one of the few species that has strong claws allowing them to perch in trees. As a matter of fact, they are a cavity nester and build their nests in tree cavities or in nesting boxes. Just one day after the ducklings hatch, they jump down from the nest and follow their mother to the nearest water.
In my experiences, it seems the Wood Duck pairs swim and/or walk the shoreline with the female exploring each and every crevasse on the way. The male always seems to stay in the open and usually behind her. Can you spot the female in the photo below?
Wood Duck Pair (female/male)
Wood Ducks pair up with a mate in January so most birds arriving at their breeding grounds are already paired. The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year.
Ok, this one is a little more difficult. Can you spot the female in the next photo?
The Wood Duck was at the edge of extinction at the turn of the 19th century and waterfowl conservation efforts has brought them back to a healthy population. These birds are painted like little "Picassos in Nature" and, if not for the habitat conservation and management measures, we would be missing out on this gem of the woodland waters.
Thanks for looking,