Common Bird Species of Northwestern Ontario





Aix sponsa
Wood Duck


Distinguishing Features -

Wood Duck - DrakeMALE - Alternate plumage 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 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 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 adult female. Males similar to adult females, but with white neck patch
(Juvenile male and female pair pictured below.)

Wood DuckSize - 43 - 51 cm (17 - 20 in).


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 coloured. Incubation period 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 their flesh and colourful feathers. A massive conservation effort has helped the species make a good recovery. Many private citizens and conservation groups have aided by placing artifical nest boxes in wetland habitats.

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