All About Wood Ducks


The beautiful and captivating wood duck is roughly 19-21 inches long, with a wingspan of 26-29 inches wide. It is roughly half the size of a mallard, but most of the comparisons stop there. Wood Ducks are cavity nesters and prefer breeding habitat that includes deciduous trees. They are uniquely equipped to fly through a tangle of branches to reach their nest site in a tree cavity. They have the largest eye of any duck, a broad wing for maneuvering, aided by a tail that is long and wide. Their legs are near the center of their body making them agile on the ground when searching for acorns on a forest floor. Woodies are classified as perching ducks; highly developed toes and claws allow them to grasp and perch on tree branches. Their ability to perch on limbs and love of woodland swamps may be where they acquired the name "wood duck."

Other Wood Duck Facts:
  • Cavity Nesting Duck, wood ducks readily take to the artificial cavities of nest boxes
  • Hen has white eyeliner around eye
  • Average nest has 10 - 14 eggs
  • Multiple hens may lay eggs in the same nest box resulting in clutches of 20 or more eggs
  • Hen lays one egg a day until starting incubation of ~30 days
  • Ducklings will leave nest ~24 hours after hatch, generally between 7 AM and 9 AM in the morning
  • Ducklings are self feeders, hen leads them to water with food source
  • Duckling eat invertebrates, mosquito larva, insects, small water plants, etc.
  • Hen alone cares for ducklings, male does not assist in raising ducklings
  • Hens will return to the same nest box if they had a successful nest in the previous year
  • Predators and other factors may result in only 30-40 % of brood surviving the first 90 days.
  • The average lifespan of a wood duck in the wild is 4 to 5 years.
  • The oldest wood duck recorded from a USFWS band return was 23 years old.