Photo Essay: The Spectacular Wood Duck

A photographic tribute to one of the world's most colorful ducks

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Photo © Chuck Heiting

At first light, the unmistakable squeal of a hen wood duck awakens marsh and bottomland creatures in many parts of North America.

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The plumage of drake wood ducks displays all the colors of the rainbow.

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For many hunters, waterfowl season begins with wood ducks on crisp autumn mornings on beaver ponds and sloughs. Their acrobatic flying, excellent table quality, and magnificent plumage make wood ducks a real prize.

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Wood ducks are among the first waterfowl to migrate south in the fall after blue-winged teal.

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A cavity-nesting species, the wood duck lays its eggs in hollow trees or man-made nest boxes.

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Wood ducks are secretive birds that haunt the shaded confines of wooded ponds and tangled swamps.

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Cloaked in feathers of every color found on nature's palette, the wood duck, with its exquisite plumage, defies description.

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Due to deforestation and market hunting, wood duck numbers declined significantly during the early 20th century.

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But sound management and conservation efforts have helped wood ducks to flourish, and today these beautiful birds are a common sight on wetlands across the continent.

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Building and installing wood duck boxes can help local wood duck populations. But regular maintenance is essential, as every spring boxes must be cleaned out and nesting material replaced to provide suitable habitat for nesting hens.

Get more information on wood duck boxes.

See more wood duck photos.