Wood Duck

Aix sponsa

The male Wood Duck vies as one of the most beautiful creatures on this planet. Another duck with similar credentials, and the only other species in the Aix genus, is the Mandarin Duck.

Wood Duck feet have claw adaptations to help them perch on trees and other woody structures. They nest in hollows of trees, sometimes at substantial elevations. The very young often have to jump from great heights before taking their first steps on terra firma.

Wood Duck populations reached a low point in the early 1900s because of habitat loss. In the 1920s hunting was regulated and people began building nest boxes for these birds and slowly the populations rose. Today their numbers have rebounded well enough that hunting has resumed on these birds.

Most of eastern half of the USA hosts Wood Ducks year round, as does much of the West Coast, the Pacific Northwest, and Cuba. In summer, some of their population migrates north as far as southern Canada. Southwestern USA, the southern Rocky Mountain states and northern and central Mexico host non-breeding birds.

Despite their fragmented range, today’s science does not recognise any subspecies (i.e. they are monotypic).

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