Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Anseriformes / Anatidae / Aix / Species
< >  Aix sponsa - Wood duck (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

North American Wood Duck
Carolina duck
Carolina
Carolina wood duck
American wood duck
Woodie
Summer duck
Brautente (German)
Canard carolin (French)
Pato del bosque de Carolina (Spanish)
Pato joyuyo (Spanish)

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

Eclipse.

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B6, B8, B19, B25, B26,

Aviculture references:
J23.13.w3
B7, B11.33.w1, B29, B31, B94, B96, B97, B108
D1, D8

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

General information:
  • Perching Ducks and "geese" are generally happier maintained fully-flighted if possible, for example in an aviary for the smaller species, or under flight netting.
  • While the larger species in this group are hardy, the smaller species may be more delicate and require winter shelter. These species eat a high proportion of vegetable matter and appreciate a grazing area. Most of these species are hole-nesters.
  • Many of these species are sociable outside the breeding season, although Cairina moschata - Muscovy duck, Cairina scutulata - White-winged duck, Pteronetta hartlaubii - Hartlaub's duck and Plectropterus gambensis - Spur-winged goose can all be aggressive and require separate enclosures.

(B7, B11.33.w1, B94, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Wood-ducks (commonly known as "Carolinas" in the UK) are winter-hardy, although access to shelter may be appreciated in snow and frost. These ducks are easy to manage, popular and widely kept. They are suitable for mixed-species collections, being generally unaggressive. Feeding with grain, pellets, duckweed or other greenfood and bread is suggested.
  • Wood ducks are easy to breed . Raised nest boxes should be provided, although they may also lay in shelters, ground-level boxes and tunnels in banks. Nest boxes about 45-60cm high and 30cm diameter, with an entrance hole of 10cm diameter about 2/3 of the way up the box and with e.g. some wood shavings in the bottom are suggested. A ramp should be used to make the nest box accessible to flight-restricted birds. They may lay from March to June, in the UK; are reliable sitters and rearers, and may produce a second clutch if the first set of eggs is removed for artificial incubation, or even after rearing the first clutch.
  • The ducklings may be parent reared in natural conditions, or broody reared with protection form rain and cold wind initially; they are also easily hand-reared. Hard-boiled egg and duckweed useful foods initially in addition to rearing crumbs. Pens for ducklings must be covered, as they are good climbers. They may be difficult to start feeding initially while trying to escape from the brooder by climbing out, particularly if there are only a few ducklings. Feeding with starter crumbs plus chopped hard-boiled egg and finely chopped lettuce is suggested, with some fine grit available.
  • These ducks are promiscuous and hybridisation is common, particularly with Netta rufina - Red-crested pochard and Aythya ferina - Common pochard drakes.

(J23.13.w3, B29, B31, B94, B96, B97, B108).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average ring size: J 9.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 17-20 inches, 43-51cm (B3, B1)
Adult weight General 482-879g (B1).
Male 539-879g, average 680g (B3); mean 1.5 lbs. (B8).
Female 482-879g, average 539g) (B3); mean 1.2 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Thin yellow line of extreme base, then red base, shading to white on sides, black central stripe and tip. Bill base projects towards eyebrow.
Variations (If present) Female: grey; bill base projects towards eyebrow as in male.
Eyes
(Iris)
Male Red, surrounded by orange ring.
Variations(If present) Female: Brown with narrow yellow ring..
Juvenile Bill Grey.
Eyes (Iris) Brown; indistinct yellow ring..

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Legs

Adult Male Yellow.
Variations (If present) Female: dull yellow-grey
Juvenile Dull yellow-grey.

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Plumage

Adult Male Head iridescent green-black, extending into long crest. Thin white line from base of bill to tip of crest, second white line from just behind eye to end of crest, throat white extending dorsally to form two white lines, one behind eye, second at top of neck. Neck blackish neck blends into chest maroon spotted with white, separated by white and black vertical bars from flanks yellow/buff with fine vermiculations and narrow band of black and white striping at upper edge separating from upperparts of iridescent blue/green/black. Abdomen white, tail iridescent green/black, with brown/black/maroon coverts.

Wings iridescent green/blue with white on tips of secondaries and outer vanes of primaries.

Variations (If present) Female: head grey with darker crown and large white ring around eye extending posteriorly into stripe, also white line around bill and small throat patch. Upperparts olive-brown, breast and flanks olive brown spotted with white, abdomen white, tail and uppertail coverts olive. Wings less iridescent and more white on tips of secondaries.

Eclipse: Similar to female but still has more white on throat.

Juvenile Similar to female but abdomen spotted with brown, less developed white ring around eye; males begin to develop white chin and throat.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts dark brown with small white patches on wings and back; underparts pale yellow with black stripe from eye to nape.
Bill: Blue/grey.
Feet: Black.

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins February/April.
No. of Clutches Southern birds occasionally double-clutch.

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Nest placement and structure

In tree cavities up to 80 feet above the ground, lined with down.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average --
Range 9-15 (B1, B8)
Egg Description White to brownish-white.

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Incubation

About 30 days (B1); 25-31 days (B8).

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

60 days (B1, B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males One year old.
Females One year old.

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Mainly feed by plucking, dabbling, head-dipping and upending on water, but also feed on land.
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary nests.
Incubation By female.
Newly-hatched Tended by female, who leads the brood the sometimes -considerable distance to water after they have jumped out of the nest hole.
Juveniles

May be abandoned by one month old.

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Often in small groups.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Egg-eating snakes, racoons, woodpeckers all take eggs.

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Predation in Wild

Egg-eating snakes, racoons, woodpeckers all take eggs.

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Activity Patterns

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Circadian --

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Natural Diet

Adults

Acorns and other nuts, seeds and green parts of aquatic plats including water-lilies, pondweeds, wild rice, arrow arum, duckweeds.

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Newly-hatched

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal

Western, south-eastern and central North America; Cuba.

Northern birds migrate south for winter, as far as central Mexico.

Occasional and Accidental Regularly seen Bermuda, Azores and also Alaska. (Records in Europe presumed to be from escaped birds).
Introduced

Introduced into Britain on several occasions from 1870 onwards, but never fully established.

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Habitat

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)
Abundant (B1).
CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

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Captive Populations

Common in collections (B8).

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Trade

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