Wood duck

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Wood duck
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa), Parc du Rouge-Cloitre, Brussels.jpg
Male wood duck
Female Wood Duck (Aix sponsa), Parc du Rouge-Cloitre, Brussels.jpg
Female wood duck
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Aix
Species:
A. sponsa
Binomial name
Aix sponsa
Aix sponsa dis1.PNG
Range of A. sponsa
     Breeding range     Year-round range     Wintering range
Synonyms
  • Anas sponsaLinnaeus, 1758

The wood duck or Carolina duck (Aix sponsa) is a species of perching duck found in North America. It is one of the most colorful North American waterfowl. [2] [3]

The perching ducks were previously treated as a small group of ducks in the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae, grouped together on the basis of their readiness to perch high in trees. It has been subsequently shown that the grouping is paraphyletic and their apparent similarity results from convergent evolution, with the different members more closely related to various other ducks than to each other.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Contents

Wood duck in flight Wood duck.2.jpg
Wood duck in flight
Wood duck The deployed wings wood duck.jpg
Wood duck
Lifting off to fly Wood duck lift off.jpg
Lifting off to fly

Description

Close up of male head Male Aix sponsa portrait.jpg
Close up of male head

The wood duck is a medium-sized perching duck. A typical adult is from 47 to 54 cm (19 to 21 in) in length with a wingspan of between 66 to 73 cm (26 to 29 in). This is about three-quarters of the length of an adult mallard. It shares its genus with the Asian Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata). [2]

Mallard species of dabbling duck

The mallard is a dabbling duck that breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Eurasia, and North Africa and has been introduced to New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, the Falkland Islands, and South Africa. This duck belongs to the subfamily Anatinae of the waterfowl family Anatidae. The male birds (drakes) have a glossy green head and are grey on their wings and belly, while the females have mainly brown-speckled plumage. Both sexes have an area of white-bordered black or iridescent blue feathers called a speculum on their wings; males especially tend to have blue speculum feathers. The mallard is 50–65 cm (20–26 in) long, of which the body makes up around two-thirds the length. The wingspan is 81–98 cm (32–39 in) and the bill is 4.4 to 6.1 cm long. It is often slightly heavier than most other dabbling ducks, weighing 0.72–1.58 kg (1.6–3.5 lb). Mallards live in wetlands, eat water plants and small animals, and are social animals preferring to congregate in groups or flocks of varying sizes. This species is the main ancestor of most breeds of domesticated ducks.

Mandarin duck perching duck

The mandarin duck is a perching duck species native to East Asia. It is medium-sized, at 41–49 cm (16–19 in) long with a 65–75 cm (26–30 in) wingspan. It is closely related to the North American wood duck, the only other member of the genus Aix. Aix is an Ancient Greek word which was used by Aristotle to refer to an unknown diving bird, and galericulata is the Latin for a wig, derived from galerum, a cap or bonnet.

The adult male has distinctive 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 male's call is a rising whistle, jeeeeee; the females utter a drawn-out, rising squeal, do weep do weep, when flushed, and a sharp cr-r-ek, cr-e-ek for an alarm call. [4]

Behavior

Their breeding habitat is wooded swamps, shallow lakes, marshes or ponds, and creeks 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. Females line their nests with feathers and other soft materials, and the elevation provides some protection from predators. [5] Unlike most other ducks, the wood duck has sharp claws for perching in trees and can, in southern regions, produce two broods in a single season—the only North American duck that can do so. [4]

Swamp A forested wetland

A swamp is a wetland that is forested. Many swamps occur along large rivers where they are critically dependent upon natural water level fluctuations. Other swamps occur on the shores of large lakes. Some swamps have hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodic inundation or soil saturation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp forests and "transitional" or shrub swamps. In the boreal regions of Canada, the word swamp is colloquially used for what is more correctly termed a bog, fen, or muskeg. The water of a swamp may be fresh water, brackish water or seawater. Some of the world's largest swamps are found along major rivers such as the Amazon, the Mississippi, and the Congo.

Marsh A wetland that is dominated by herbaceous rather than woody plant species

A marsh is a wetland that is dominated by herbaceous rather than woody plant species. Marshes can often be found at the edges of lakes and streams, where they form a transition between the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. They are often dominated by grasses, rushes or reeds. If woody plants are present they tend to be low-growing shrubs. This form of vegetation is what differentiates marshes from other types of wetland such as swamps, which are dominated by trees, and mires, which are wetlands that have accumulated deposits of acidic peat.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Females typically lay between 7 and 15 white-tan eggs that incubate for an average of 30 days. [4] However, if nesting boxes are placed too close together, females may lay eggs in the nests of their neighbours, which may lead to nests which may contain as many as 30 eggs and unsuccessful incubation, a behaviour known as "nest dumping". [6]

After hatching, the ducklings climb to the opening of the nest cavity, 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. [5] They prefer nesting over water so the young have a soft landing, but will nest up to 140 m (460 ft) away from the shoreline. The day after they hatch, the young climb to the nest entrance and jump to the ground. The ducklings can swim and find their own food by this time."

These birds feed by dabbling or walking on land. Dabbling means to search for food from the surface of the water, as opposed to diving underneath the surface to scavenge for food. [ clarification needed ] They mainly eat berries, acorns, and seeds, but also insects, making them omnivores. [5]

Distribution

In Central Park, New York, USA Spinus-wood-duck-2015-04-n033266-w.jpg
In Central Park, New York, USA

The birds are year-round residents in parts of its southern range, but the northern populations migrate south for the winter. [7] [8] They overwinter in the southern United States near the Atlantic coast. 75% of the wood ducks in the Pacific Flyway are non-migratory. [8] They are also popular, due to their attractive plumage, in waterfowl collections and as such are frequently recorded in Great Britain as escapes—populations have become temporarily established in Surrey in the past but are not considered to be self-sustaining in the fashion of the closely related Mandarin duck.[ citation needed ] Given its native distribution the species is also a potential natural vagrant to Western Europe and there have been records in areas such as Cornwall, Scotland and the Isles of Scilly which some observers consider may relate to wild birds; however, given the wood duck's popularity in captivity it would be extremely difficult to prove their provenance.[ citation needed ] There is a small feral population in Dublin.[ citation needed ]

Conservation

The population of the wood duck was in serious decline in the late 19th century as a result of severe habitat loss and market hunting both for meat and plumage for the ladies' hat market in Europe. By the beginning of the 20th century, wood ducks had virtually disappeared from much of their former range. In response to the Migratory Bird Treaty established in 1916 and enactment of the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, wood duck populations began to recover slowly. By ending unregulated hunting and taking measures to protect remaining habitat, wood duck populations began to rebound in the 1920s. The development of the artificial nesting box in the 1930s gave an additional boost to wood duck production. [9]

Landowners as well as park and refuge managers can encourage wood ducks by building wood duck nest boxes near lakes, ponds, and streams. Fulda, Minnesota has adopted the wood duck as an unofficial mascot, and a large number of nest boxes can be found in the area.[ citation needed ]

Expanding North American beaver populations throughout the wood duck's range have also helped the population rebound as beavers create an ideal forested wetland habitat for wood ducks. [8]

The population of the wood duck has increased a great deal in the last several years. The increase has been due to the work of many people constructing wood duck boxes and conserving vital habitat for the wood ducks to breed. During the open waterfowl season, U.S. hunters have only been allowed to take two wood ducks per day in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways. However, for the 2008–2009 season, the limit was raised to three. The wood duck limit remains at two in the Central Flyway and at seven in the Pacific Flyway. It is the second most commonly hunted duck in North America, after the mallard. [2]

In 2013, the Royal Canadian Mint created two coins to commemorate the wood duck. The two coins are each part of a three coin set to help promote Ducks Unlimited Canada as well as celebrate its 75th anniversary. [10]

Related Research Articles

Duck common name for many species in the bird family Anatidae

Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the waterfowl family Anatidae which also includes swans and geese. Ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the family Anatidae; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered ducks. Ducks are mostly aquatic birds, mostly smaller than the swans and geese, and may be found in both fresh water and sea water.

Northern pintail A migratory duck that breeds in northern Eurasia and North America

The pintail or northern pintail is a duck with wide geographic distribution that breeds in the northern areas of Europe, Asia and North America. It is migratory and winters south of its breeding range to the equator. Unusually for a bird with such a large range, it has no geographical subspecies if the possibly conspecific duck Eaton's pintail is considered to be a separate species.

Northern shoveler species of bird

The northern shoveler, known simply in Britain as the shoveler, is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America, wintering in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Central, and northern South America. It is a rare vagrant to Australia. In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and west of this body of water, and as far south as the Great Lakes west to Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon.

Gadwall species of bird

The gadwall is a common and widespread dabbling duck in the family Anatidae.

Redhead (bird) species of bird

The redhead is a medium-sized diving duck. The scientific name is derived from Greek aithuia an unidentified seabird mentioned by authors including Hesychius and Aristotle, and Latin americana, of America. The redhead is 37 cm (15 in) long with an 84 cm (33 in) wingspan. It belongs to the genus Aythya, together with 11 other described species. The redhead and the common pochard form a sister group which together is sister to the canvasback.

American black duck species of bird

The American black duck is a large dabbling duck in the family Anatidae. It was described by William Brewster in 1902. It is the heaviest species in the genus Anas, weighing 720–1,640 g (1.59–3.62 lb) on average and measuring 54–59 cm (21–23 in) in length with a 88–95 cm (35–37 in) wingspan. It somewhat resembles the female mallard in coloration, but has a darker plumage. The male and female are generally similar in appearance, but the male's bill is yellow while the female's is dull green with dark marks on the upper mandible. It is native to eastern North America. During the breeding season, it is usually found in coastal and freshwater wetlands from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic in Canada and the Great Lakes and the Adirondacks in the United States. It is a partially migratory species, mostly wintering in the east-central United States, especially in coastal areas.

Hooded merganser species of bird

The hooded merganser is a species of small duck. It is the only extant species in the genus Lophodytes. The genus name derives from the Greek language: lophos meaning 'crest', and dutes meaning diver. The bird is striking in appearance; both sexes have crests that they can raise or lower, and the breeding plumage of the male is handsomely patterned and coloured. The hooded merganser has a sawbill but is not classified as a typical merganser.

Common eider species of sea-duck

The common eider, also called St. Cuthbert's duck or Cuddy's duck, is a large sea-duck that is distributed over the northern coasts of Europe, North America and eastern Siberia. It breeds in Arctic and some northern temperate regions, but winters somewhat farther south in temperate zones, when it can form large flocks on coastal waters. It can fly at speeds up to 113 km/h (70 mph).

Common goldeneye species of duck

The common goldeneye is a medium-sized sea duck of the genus Bucephala, the goldeneyes. Its closest relative is the similar Barrow's goldeneye. The genus name is derived from the Ancient Greek boukephalos, a reference to the bulbous head shape of the bufflehead. The species name is derived from the Latin clangere.

Surf scoter species of bird

The surf scoter is a large sea duck native to North America. Adult males are entirely black with characteristic white patches on the forehead and the nape and adult females are slightly smaller and browner. Surf scoters breed in Northern Canada and Alaska and winter along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America. Those diving ducks mainly feed on benthic invertebrates, mussels representing an important part of their diet.

Knob-billed duck species of bird

The knob-billed duck, or African comb duck, is a duck found in tropical wetlands in Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar and south Asia from Pakistan to Laos and extreme southern China.

<i>Aix</i> (genus) genus of birds

Aix is a bird genus that contains two species of ducks: the wood duck, and the Mandarin duck. Aix is an Ancient Greek word used by Aristotle to refer to an unknown diving bird.

Mottled duck species of bird

The mottled duck or mottled mallard is a medium-sized dabbling duck. It is intermediate in appearance between the female mallard and the American black duck. It is closely related to those species, and is sometimes considered a subspecies of the former, but this is inappropriate.

Black-bellied whistling duck species of bird

The black-bellied whistling-duck, formerly called the black-bellied tree duck, is a whistling duck that breeds from the southernmost United States and tropical Central to south-central South America. In the USA, it can be found year-round in peninsular Florida, parts of southeast Texas, and seasonally in southeast Arizona, and Louisiana's Gulf Coast. It is a rare breeder in such disparate locations as Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina, though it is now a common breeder in parts of central Florida. There is a large population of several hundred that winter each year in Audubon Park in uptown New Orleans, Louisiana. Since it is one of only two whistling-duck species native to North America, it is occasionally just known as the "whistling duck" or "Mexican squealer" in the southern USA.

Crested duck species of duck native to South America

The crested duck or South American crested duck is a species of duck native to South America, the belonging to the monotypic genus Lophonetta. It is sometimes included in Anas, but it belongs to a South American clade that diverged early in dabbling duck evolution. There are two subspecies: L. specularioides alticola and L. specularioides specularioides. The Patagonian crested duck is also called the southern crested duck and its range lies in the Falklands, Chile, and Argentina.

Waterfowl hunting

Waterfowl hunting is the practice of hunting ducks, geese, or other waterfowl for food and sport. In many western countries, commercial waterfowl hunting is prohibited, and duck hunting is primarily an outdoor sporting activity.

Erie National Wildlife Refuge

The Erie National Wildlife Refuge is an 8,777-acre (3,552 ha) National Wildlife Refuge located in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Named after the Erie tribe, it was established to provide waterfowl and other migratory birds with nesting, feeding, brooding, and resting habitat.

The Sea Duck Joint Venture (SDJV) is a conservation partnership established in 1998 whose mission is "promoting the conservation of North America’s Sea Ducks". The partners are the Canadian Wildlife Service, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Geological Survey, Ducks Unlimited, Bird Studies Canada, the Pacific Flyway Council, and the council for U.S. Flyways. It is one of three species joint ventures operating within the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

References

  1. BirdLife International (2016). "Aix sponsa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . IUCN. 2016: e.T22680104A92843477. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22680104A92843477.en . Retrieved 2 June 2018.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  2. 1 2 3 "Wood Duck". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology . Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  3. Dawson, William (2007). Neher, Anna (ed.). Dawson's Avian Kingdom Selected Writings. California Legacy. pp. 37–38. ISBN   978-1-59714-062-1.
  4. 1 2 3 "Wood Duck". Ducks Unlimited Canada. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 "Wood Duck Fact Sheet, Lincoln Park Zoo". lpzoo.org. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  6. "Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) Dump-Nests". Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  7. "Wood Duck". Hinterland's Who's Who. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 "Wood Duck". BirdWeb: The Birds of Washington State. Seattle Audubon Society. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  9. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) (PDF) (Report). USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  10. "Royal Canadian Mint Coins Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Ducks Unlimited Canada While Honouring Other Icons of Canadian Nature, Culture And History". Mint.ca. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2013.