Saturday, May 9, 2015

Wood Ducks

The male Wood duck is one of the most stunning of all the ducks and certainly one of the most ornate. The male's crested head is dominated by iridescent green as well as patches of pure white and a red eye. The female, on the other hand is much less colorful, but has a prominent white eye ring.

Their favored habitat consists of wooded swamps and ponds where they nest in tree cavities such as old woodpecker nest cavities and places where a tree has naturally rotted. The nest can be up to sixty feet up the tree. It may seem incongruous, but their webbed feet are equipped with strong claws for gripping bark and perching on branches.

A friend of mine recently sent me a photo he had taken of a pair of wood ducks that he had spotted standing in a tree. If the female cannot find a suitable nesting site, they do readily take to man-made nesting boxes and there is quite a program across the country for installing them.

Wood Ducks are in the family of dabbling ducks and feed by tipping up in shallow ponds and occasionally diving below the surface. In this image, I found them at the shallow end of a pond where pairs of Northern Shoveler were also present.

Unlike most other ducks, they do not quack. Their voice consist more of whistles and squeals. It was how I learned to recognize when they were present. They will often become vocal just before they take to flight. I don't know what the deal is with this crow. He isn't part of the story.

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