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Wood Duck, male and female
Wood Duck, female Wood Duck, male
Photos © Julia Flanagan; North Chagrin Nature Reservation, Cleveland, OH; November 2010

Wood Duck
Aix sponsa

The Wood Duck is a shy and skittish, medium-sized perching duck.  It shares its genus with the Asian Mandarin Duck.

Adult males have distinctive multi-colored iridescent plumage and red eyes. Females are less colorful and have a white eye-ring and a whitish throat. Both have crested heads.

When swimming, wood ducks bob their head back and forth in a jerking motion, which makes them easy to spot.

These birds feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat berries and seeds, but also insects, making them omnivores.

The male's call is a rising whistle, while the female gives a whistled whoo-eek if startled.

Their breeding habitat is wooded swamps, shallow lakes, marshes or ponds in eastern North America, the west coast of the United States and western Mexico. They usually nest in cavities in trees close to water, although they will take advantage of nesting boxes in wetland locations if available.

Northern populations migrate south for the winter. They overwinter in the southern United States near the Atlantic coast.