A recent walk took me to Reifel Bird Sanctuary; I saw many amazing birds and took a lot of pictures. These are some of the pictures I took of Wood Ducks. Future posts will feature other birds.
"The Wood Duck is one of 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. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches."
Most of the facts that I will share here came from the above website.
"Wood Ducks thrive in bottomland forests, swamps, freshwater marshes, and beaver ponds."
"The Wood Duck nests in trees near water, sometimes directly over water, but other times over a mile away. 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. The ducklings may jump from heights of over 50 feet without injury."
This is the handsome male Wood Duck with his
glossy green head cut with white stripes, a red brown breast with light spots and buffy sides.
His eyes are bright red and are edged in red.
Females and juveniles are grey brown with white-speckled breast and white patches around the eyes.
"Unlike most waterfowl, Wood Ducks perch and nest in trees and are comfortable flying through woods. Their broad tail and short, broad wings help make them maneuverable."
"When swimming, the head jerks back and forth much as a walking pigeon's does."
When natural cavities for nesting are scarce the Wood Duck will use nest boxes.
I thought this was an interesting factoid:
"Egg-dumping, or "intraspecific brood parasitism" is common in Wood Ducks—females visit other Wood Duck cavities, lay eggs in them, and leave them to be raised by the other female. This may have been made more common by the abundance and conspicuousness of artificial nest boxes; in some areas it happens in more than half of all nests. Individual females typically lay 10-11 eggs per clutch, but some very full nests have been found containing 29 eggs, the result of egg-dumping."
"Wood Ducks pair up in January, and most birds arriving at the breeding grounds in the spring are already paired. The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year."
The oldest recorded Wood Duck was a male and at least 22 years, 6 months old. He had been banded in Oregon and was found in California.
Plant materials make up 80% or more of the Wood Duck diet.
"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 feed by dabbling or short, shallow dives. They are strong fliers and can reach speeds of 30 mph. Wood Ducks are not territorial, with the exception that a male may fight off other males that approach his mate too closely."
Good news on numbers of birds: "Wood Duck populations increased between 1966 and 2015 according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey."
The Wood Ducks at Reifel Bird Sanctuary seem content to share the pathways with bird watchers. I have never seen so many Wood Ducks in one place before, if you too are fascinated by these beautiful birds maybe you should visit the sanctuary soon.
Here is a video of a Wood Duck Pair:
That's all I have for you today,
Happy Wednesday, with whimsy,