|Conservation status||Early in 20th century, species was thought to be threatened with extinction. Main cause of decline probably loss of nest sites due to cutting of large trees, combined with hunting pressure. Legal protection and provision of nest boxes helped recovery; many thousands of nest boxes now occupied by Wood Ducks in U.S. and southern Canada. In recent years, apparently has been expanding range in north and west.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||Wooded swamps, rivers, ponds. Favors shallow inland lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers, swamps, mainly those surrounded by deciduous or mixed woodland. Often in places where large trees overhang the water, creating shady conditions. Also in open marshes within generally forested country.|
forages in water by taking food from surface, submerging head and neck, occasionally up-ending; also by walking on land.
9-14, sometimes 6-15. Dull white to pale buff. Females frequently lay eggs in each others' nests, sometimes in "dump nests" where no incubation ever takes place. Incubation is by female only, 25-35 days. Young: ducklings remain in nest until morning after hatching. Clinging with sharp claws and bracing with tails, young climb to cavity entrance, jump to ground. Female tends young. Two or more broods may combine. Young are tended by females for 5-6 weeks, capable of flight at about 8-9 weeks. 1 brood per year in north, often 2 in south.
ducklings remain in nest until morning after hatching. Clinging with sharp claws and bracing with tails, young climb to cavity entrance, jump to ground. Female tends young. Two or more broods may combine. Young are tended by females for 5-6 weeks, capable of flight at about 8-9 weeks. 1 brood per year in north, often 2 in south.
mostly seeds. Feeds on aquatic plants and their seeds, fallen seeds of trees and shrubs, also insects and crustaceans. Acorns are a major part of diet in many areas. Also comes to fields to feed on waste grain. Young feed mainly on insects and other invertebrates.
Courtship displays of male involve postures that show off colorful plumage. Nest sites are in large tree cavities near water, up to 65' above ground. Cavity lined with down. Rarely nests in hollow fallen logs, barn lofts, crevices in rocks. Uses artificial nest boxes, even when these are placed low and in open marsh.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Northern birds migratory; southern females may be permanent residents. Movements of males variable; pairs form on wintering grounds and male follows female to nesting range, so a male might migrate far north one spring and only a short distance the next, depending on the origin of his mate for that year.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsFemale, loud wooo-eeek!; male, softer jeee? or ter-weeeee?
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Wood Duck
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Wood Duck
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.