Aix Sponsa – Wood Duck

Distinguishing Features:Wood Duck - Drake

  • MALE – Alternate plumage is worn from fall through early summer. Red bill; red eye; green head; striking white stripes about-face and crest with a large white throat patch and “fingerlike” extensions onto cheek and neck; chestnut breast and neck with vertical white stripe at the lower margin; golden flanks bordered above by a white flank stripe; white belly; iridescent dark green-blue back and wings. Adult male basic: the male resembles the female, but often retains the distinctive neck patch and red bill. (Mature male pictured above.)
  • FEMALE – Adult female – Gray bill; white teardrop-shaped patch around the eye; white throat; gray-brown head and neck; gray-brown breast stippled with white and fading to a white belly; dark brown back
  • JUVENILE PLUMAGE – Female similar to the adult female. Males are similar to adult females, but with white neck patch
    (Juvenile male and female pair pictured below.)

  • Size – 43 – 51 cm
  • (17 – 20 in)

Wood Duck


Ponds and wooded lakes; swamps.


Nests are often found in a natural tree cavity sometimes up to 50 feet off of the ground; sometimes on the ground. Will also nest in artificial nesting boxes. Nests are lined with down.

Eggs, 10 – 15; cream colored. The incubation period is 28 – 30 days.


The most ornamental of all North American duck species, the Wood Duck was hunted to near extinction during the 18th Century for its flesh and colorful feathers.

A massive conservation effort has helped the species make a good recovery. Many private citizens and conservation groups have aided by placing artificial nest boxes in wetland habitats.

Read more about common birds like the Canada goose.