THE WOOD DUCK , Aix sponsa
The wood duck , also known as the Carolina duck is a medium-sized duck. This non native duck originates from North America and most found in the wild here in the U.K. will have escaped from captive collections . A typical adult is around 50cm In length and has a wingspan of between 65 to 75cm, with a weight ranging between 450-850 g.. The distinctive male has a multicolored iridescent plumage and red eyes,with a distinctive white flare down the neck. The female, less colorful, has a white eye-ring and a whitish throat. Both adults have crested heads. The Wood duck has a boxy, crested head, a thin neck, and a long, broad tail. In flight, they hold their head up high, sometimes bobbing it.
Breeding pairs search for nest cavities during early morning. The male stands outside as the female enters and examines the site. They typically choose a tree more than 600cm in diameter, with a cavity anywhere from up to 20 metres high. The nest tree is normally situated near to or over water, though Wood Ducks will use cavities up to 1.2 miles from water. Females typically lay between 7 and 15 white-tan eggs that incubate for an average of 30 days. 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 Females line their nests with feathers and other soft materials, and the elevation provides some protection from predators. Unlike most other ducks, the wood duck has sharp claws for perching in trees
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. Diet studies indicate a lot of variability, but 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.
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.