Marylandís most colorful duck, the wood duck, has plumage in shades of green, purple and burgundy, and red eyes. As with many birds, males are much more colorful than females. Malesí crested heads are iridescent green and purple, with a white throat, while females are mostly brown and gray with white accents around the eyes and throat. Wood ducks are small to medium sized dabbling ducks with long, square tails. They are easily identified while in flight by their white underside and distinct head-bobbing motion.
Wood ducks are considered surface-feeders or marsh ducks, because while feeding they will tip their back end up and dabble. In addition to insects and a variety of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, they will also forage for seeds, fruit and acorns. Other Maryland ducks in this category include the American black duck, gadwall, mallard, pintail, American wigeon, Northern shoveler, blue-wing teal and green-wing teal.
Wood ducks can be found throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Mississippi flyways in riparian areas along lakes and streams, as well as wooded swamps and freshwater marshes. In Maryland, wood ducks are the most common breeding duck and the only cavity-nesting dabbling duck, preferring to nest in tree cavities and manmade boxes which are out of reach of their predators. Occasionally, they might even nest in a chimney. One female might lay up to 15 eggs, which hatch after an approximate gestation period of 30 days.
Did you know ÖThe Maryland Wood Duck Initiative is a volunteer effort committed to building and monitoring wood duck boxes. The program involves 59 public site projects and over 1,500 boxes. For more information, or to get involved, visit http://www.mwdi.net/
Photo of Wood Ducks
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