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]

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
Female at Yellow Lake Woodduckfemale.jpg
Female at Yellow Lake

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]

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]

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] More information on the efficacy of nest boxes can be found in the Conservation Evidence webpage. [10]

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.

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. [11]

Related Research Articles

Duck common name for many species in the bird family Anatidae

Duck is the common name for numerous 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 and across the Palearctic 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.

American wigeon Species of bird

The American wigeon, also called a baldpate, is a species of dabbling duck found in North America. Formerly assigned to Anas, this species is classified with the other wigeons in the dabbling duck genus Mareca. It is the New World counterpart of the Eurasian wigeon. Mareca is from the Brazilian-Portuguese word Marréco for a small duck and americana refers to America.

Mallard Species of bird

The mallard is a dabbling duck that breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Eurosiberia, 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.

Ring-necked duck Species of bird

The ring-necked duck is a diving duck from North America commonly found in freshwater ponds and lakes. The scientific name is derived from Greek aithuia an unidentified seabird mentioned by authors including Hesychius and Aristotle, and Latin collaris, "of the neck" from collum, "neck".

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.

Mandarin duck Species of bird

The mandarin duck is a perching duck species native to the East Palearctic. 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.

Hooded merganser Species of bird

The hooded merganser is a species of small diving 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 bird

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 bird

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.

Lesser scaup Species of bird

The lesser scaup is a small North American diving duck that migrates south as far as Central America in winter. It is colloquially known as the little bluebill or broadbill because of its distinctive blue bill. The origin of the name scaup may stem from the bird's preference for feeding on scalp—the Scottish word for clams, oysters, and mussels; however, some credit it to the female's discordant scaup call as the name's source. It is apparently a very close relative of the Holarctic greater scaup or "bluebill", with which it forms a superspecies. The scientific name is derived from Ancient Greek aithuia an unidentified seabird mentioned by authors including Hesychius and Aristotle, and Latin, affinis "related to", from its resemblance to the greater scaup.

Surf scoter Species of bird

The surf scoter is a large sea duck native to North America. Adult males are almost 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.

Comb duck Species of bird

The comb duck or American comb duck, is an unusual duck, found in tropical wetlands in continental South America south to the Paraguay River region in eastern Paraguay, southeastern Brazil and the extreme northeast of Argentina, and as a vagrant on Trinidad.

<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.

Australian wood duck Species of bird

The Australian wood duck, maned duck or maned goose is a dabbling duck found throughout much of Australia. It is the only living species in the genus Chenonetta. Traditionally placed in the subfamily Anatinae, it might belong to the subfamily Tadorninae (shelducks); the ringed teal may be its closest living relative.

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 US, it can be found year-round in peninsular Florida, parts of southeast Texas, coastal Alabama 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.

Blue-billed duck Species of bird

The blue-billed duck is a small Australian stiff-tailed duck, with both the male and female growing to a length of 40 cm (16 in). The male has a slate-blue bill which changes to bright-blue during the breeding season, hence the duck's common name. The male has deep chestnut plumage during breeding season, reverting to a dark grey. The female retains black plumage with brown tips all year round. The duck is endemic to Australia's temperate regions, inhabiting natural inland wetlands and also artificial wetlands, such as sewage ponds, in large numbers. It can be difficult to observe due to its cryptic nature during its breeding season through autumn and winter. The male duck exhibits a complex mating ritual. The blue-billed duck is omnivorous, with a preference for small aquatic invertebrates. BirdLife International has classified this species as Near Threatened. Major threats include drainage of deep permanent wetlands, or their degradation as a result of introduced fish, peripheral cattle grazing, salinization, and lowering of ground water.

Waterfowl hunting

Waterfowl hunting is the practice of hunting ducks, geese, or other waterfowl for food and sport.

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 . 2016: e.T22680104A92843477. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22680104A92843477.en .CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. 1 2 "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. Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. 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. Archived from the original on 23 December 2014. 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.[ permanent dead link ]
  10. "Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)". Conservation Evidence. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  11. "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.