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April 14, 2012 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Wood Duck

I enjoy watching birds anywhere, anytime, but April has to be my favorite month. The migrants have returned from their winter homes, the males are brightly colored in breeding plumage and the trees haven’t leafed out yet making it easier to see and photograph the birds.

Yesterday I came across a pair of Wood Ducks and for the first time I was able to get good photos of them. The male, on the left, has his breeding plumage of bright green and iridescent chestnut. In the late summer the male will lose his bold colored feathers.

Wood Ducks breeding plumage

The Wood Duck is a migratory bird found across most of the US and southeastern Canada. Some will migrate into northern Mexico for the winter. They are not an uncommon bird but are not usually seen. Their preferred habitats are wooded swamps and freshwater marshes.

Lincoln MarshThe photo on the right is the marsh they were swimming on. Unlike other ducks, the Wood Ducks nest in trees or nestboxes placed around lake margins.

Interesting Facts:

  • Wood Ducks have both webbed feet for swimming and claws for perching and climbing trees.
  • If a female cannot find a tree cavity or nestbox, she will lay her eggs in another duck’s nest. This is called egg-dumping and is fairly common, resulting in over twenty eggs in one nest. The host female will accept the eggs as her own.
  • Within 24 hours after hatching, ducklings jump from the tree or nestbox and find their way to the water by listening to their mother’s calls.

Hopefully this pair is nesting at the marsh so I can get some photos of the ducklings. There is nothing cuter than 20 ducklings following mom around the pond.


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Cathy / Apr 14 2012 4:08 am

    I always have to come see what bird’s “on the menu” this week. It’s always a pleasure, Leslie!


  2. Mary / Apr 14 2012 5:34 am

    Gorgeous markings on the male. And who knew a duck could climb a tree?! I didn’t before today.


    • Leslie / Apr 14 2012 11:03 am

      I just learned that a few years ago when I watched a nestcam of a Wood Duck. The little ones had to climb the inside walls of the nestbox to get out.


  3. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Apr 14 2012 6:01 am

    What a lovely pair – the males are always so stunning.


  4. Trish / Apr 14 2012 6:10 am

    They’re such pretty ducks. Thats so funny about the egg dumping! I can’t imagine coming home one day to find strange kids in my house here to stay.


    • Leslie / Apr 14 2012 1:08 pm

      I was surprised that the females would accept the new eggs, but they do. I’ve seen it happen on the wood duck nestcams.


  5. mostraum / Apr 14 2012 6:27 am

    They both look great, he’s georgeous and she is really stylish too. Thanks for all the interesting information. I really hope we get to see pictures of their ducklings 🙂


    • Leslie / Apr 14 2012 11:05 am

      This morning I ran into a fellow birder who walks those trails every week and she confirmed that the Wood Ducks do nest there. So now I will be going back for duckling sightings.


  6. Kay / Apr 14 2012 6:50 am

    What great pictures. I love your bird facts. Who knew that some ducks can perch in trees? Not me.


    • Leslie / Apr 14 2012 11:06 am

      I would love to get a photo of them in a tree. But they are so elusive I rarely see them on the water.


  7. Louise / Apr 14 2012 7:02 am

    That male wood duck is sensational. His mate is a pretty bird too of course, but he does steal the show a bit doesn’t he? He have wood ducks in Australia too. They look quite different, but have similar sounding habits. I’ll have to do some more bird photos soon too and show you.


    • Leslie / Apr 14 2012 11:07 am

      The male Wood Duck is on of the prettiest water birds we have in North America. You have so many colorful birds, I’d love to see more photos.


  8. BermudaOnion / Apr 14 2012 7:14 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wood duck – at least not a male that looks like that. You’ve gotten me addicted to the Decorah Eagles webcam!


    • Leslie / Apr 14 2012 11:09 am

      That eagle cam is very addicting. I am amazed at how fast they are growing.


  9. Paulita / Apr 14 2012 7:22 am

    What a handsome couple they are. Hope you get to see the ducklings. Here’s Mine


  10. Staci@LifeintheThumb / Apr 14 2012 7:41 am

    Hmmm..I like that idea of egg dumping, too bad it wouldn’t have worked when my boys were little and being naughty at times!! LOL!!

    The male is gorgeous….love those photos!


  11. Eugenia / Apr 14 2012 7:55 am

    Looks very handsome, flying his mating colours as it were! Twenty chicks! Yikes!


  12. Sheila (Book Journey) / Apr 14 2012 8:56 am

    Great pic. I seen a pair of ducks in the pond by the bike trail a couple days ago. I didnt stop for a picture but I thought about it. Love yours, so detailed!


    • Leslie / Apr 15 2012 1:03 am

      Pretty soon you’ll be seeing ducklings. They’re so cute you’ll have to stop for a pic.


  13. laurelrainsnow / Apr 14 2012 9:01 am

    I do love the look of ducks on water…shimmering water like you’ve captured here.

    Marshes make me think of settings described in books or seen in movies. Thanks for sharing!



  14. cherylmahoney / Apr 14 2012 9:56 am

    So THAT’S what kind of bird they are! We have Wood Ducks on the pond at my favorite park, and I’ve always wondered. There was a pair with two ducklings last spring–and unlike the case of the single duck mother who was also floating around with her eight children, this father seemed to be involved. 🙂 Thanks for finally clearing up for me what kind of bird I’ve been seeing!


    • Leslie / Apr 15 2012 1:49 am

      Duck dads are usually pretty good about helping out with the family. I usually see them following along in the rear.


  15. gautami tripathy / Apr 14 2012 10:22 am

    Lovely pair of birds!

    Here is my Saturday Snapshot post!


  16. Susan / Apr 14 2012 10:33 am

    Wood ducks are just such beautiful birds! My husband and I came upon several last week as we were walking our dogs along an old rail trail and marshy pond … there were some volunteers mounting wood duck boxes on stakes at the edge of the marsh.


    • Leslie / Apr 15 2012 1:51 am

      The nesting boxes are a big help for the birds. There’s been so much loss of habitat and often there aren’t enough trees for them to nest.


  17. epkwrsmith / Apr 14 2012 10:58 am

    The elegant head on that male duck is incredible!! He almost looks like he’s got his hair slicked back 🙂


  18. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) / Apr 14 2012 11:31 am

    Wood ducks have always been my favorite ducks because of their distinctive markings. They are so pretty!


  19. Suko / Apr 14 2012 12:04 pm

    Lovely photo (as usual), Leslie! We have a duck pond in a neighborhood park, and it’s fun to feed the ducks bread crumbs once in a while. They become quite vocal.


  20. irene / Apr 14 2012 12:14 pm

    Wonderful photos, and great info, I really never knew any of those things. I’m up for birding camp if you are? I wish.


    • Leslie / Apr 15 2012 4:16 pm

      Birding camp would be heavenly! Or maybe a trip to Costa Rica where all the cool looking birds are.


  21. rubyport / Apr 14 2012 7:32 pm

    Ducks! Those are great – such a cute couple!

    Here’s my snapshot.


  22. Julie S. / Apr 16 2012 10:30 pm

    Beautiful pictures! I love the colors on them. Also, thanks for stopping by my blog on Saturday. And just so you know, the birding camp is for adults, so you are not too old! We’ve had campers in their 80s.


  23. katrenco / Apr 24 2012 11:55 am

    Nest Dumping (hens laying their eggs in the nest of other hens) IS very common among Wood Ducks. However, it usually results in the loss of ALL the eggs in the clutch as it becomes too large for the hen to brood. Efforts need to be taken to alleviate the problem. It is unclear exactly what causes it, but most theories include next boxes being too close to each other and too easily visible to parasitic hens.


    • Leslie / Apr 24 2012 1:37 pm

      Thanks for the info. The operator of the nestcam mentioned that she had other nestboxes around the pond but that both hens wanted the same box. I can’t remember how many chicks hatched but I do remember watching them jump out.


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