Interesting facts | Do Wood Ducks Mate for Life?

Interesting facts | Do Wood Ducks Mate for Life?

Interesting facts | Do Wood Ducks Mate for Life?

Wood Ducks are medium-sized ducks with unusual colors and patterns that may be found throughout most of the eastern half of the United States. Like most other birds, females are not as vividly colored as males, but they are always interesting to view and possibly photograph.

In January, wood ducks form partnerships and begin mating in the spring. Male wood ducks are known to be seasonally monogamous, which means they may find different partners each year. As a result, they do not always mate for life.


All year, wood ducks can be found in the Southeast and along the Pacific coast. Most people live on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts south of New Jersey. Many wood ducks fly north to colder areas during the summer months.

In the summer, wood ducks can be spotted in every state east of the Rocky Mountains and across the Pacific Northwest. Wood ducks inhabit ponds, lakes, marshes, and the banks of rivers and streams. They like regions with a combination of water and woodland environments.


Throughout their lifetimes, wood ducks change their food. They feed mostly invertebrates and the odd small fish as juveniles. Wood ducks adapt to a plant-based diet as they reach maturity. They feed on seeds, nuts, and plant material. Wood ducks will eat both aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.

Wood duck breeding

Wood ducks mate in late winter and breed in early spring. Males entice females with their calls and gorgeous breeding plumage.

After mating, the pair constructs a nest in a tree hollow. The hollow could be natural or a hole left by a woodpecker. They love trees that hang over water or are near a body of water.

With the loss of wetlands and competition from other species, trees with cavities are becoming increasingly scarce. If they can’t find a tree cavity, wood ducks will happily use human-made nest boxes.

The nest may contain 15 eggs lined with the female’s feathers. There may be as few as six eggs in the nest at times and as many as 40 on rare occasions. If a female cannot find her own nest, she will lay her eggs in another wood duck’s nest. If some of the eggs are laid by different females, a single nest can accommodate more than 40 eggs.

The eggs hatch after a few weeks. Ducklings are born with feathers and rapidly leave the nest. The ducklings will be raised on the water rather than in the nest. This means that very young ducklings must leap from lofty tree cavities onto the ground to reach the 

water. In the wild, wood ducks seldom live above the age of four. They have a high mortality rate, particularly when they are young. Wood ducks raised in captivity can live into their twenties.

Let’s get right into some fascinating Wood Duck facts.

1. Female eggs 

A female wood duck lays between 6 and 15 eggs. However, a nest can hold up to 40 eggs. If a female cannot find a suitable location for her eggs, she will use another wood duck nest containing eggs.

2. They were nearly hunted to extinction

Wood duck numbers were extremely low in the late 1800s and early 1900s due to over-hunting and habitat degradation. They appeared to be on the verge of extinction. Their numbers are increasing due to conservation initiatives, and it is estimated that there are now over a million wood ducks in North America.

3. They are also called “CAROLINA DUCKS.”

  • Other common names for wood ducks include:
  • Woodie
  • The summer duck
  • Duck with acorns
  • Duck of the swamp
  • Duck squeal

4. They perch and nest in trees

Their name comes from the fact that they perch and nest in trees. Usually very close to, or even hanging over the water. However, they will nest as far as a mile from water, but never too far.

5. Male wood ducks are the most colorful

As seen in the image above of a male wood duck, they are extremely colorful, ranking among the most colorful ducks in the world.

6. Wood ducks will use nest boxes

Because of their nesting habits, wood ducks might have difficulty finding nests. They will use nesting boxes if the proper type is offered in the right location.

7. Male wood ducks colors are for the courtesy displays

It’s no secret that male birds are more colorful than female birds, and wood ducks are no exception. This is done so that the guys can show off and attract girls.

8. Precious baby wood ducks

Precocial indicates that the infants can swim and locate food on their own as soon as they hatch. Nonetheless, they stay with Mom for a while. They can even use a unique tooth on their beak to climb down 8 feet or more to escape the nest they were born in.

9. They are monogamous

In January, wood ducks form partnerships and begin mating in the spring. Male wood ducks are known to be seasonally monogamous, which means they may find different partners each year. As a result, they do not always mate for life.

10. They have sharp claws

Inwood ducks this is an adaptation for climbing and perching. They are a few duck species with powerful claws that allow them to grip bark and climb trees.

11. They can combine with mallards

Wood ducks have been observed interbreeding with mallards (and other species), resulting in a hybrid duck breed, even though most waterfowl hybrid offspring are sterile.

12. There are no wood ducks in North America

The sole known relative of the North American Wood Duck is the Mandarin Duck of eastern Asia.

13. Capable of flight in 8-9 weeks

Baby wood ducks are ready to fly after their mother has left in just eight weeks. While learning to fly, they can jump from 300 feet without harming themselves.

14. They can be found in an abandoned woodpecker hole

As previously stated, wood ducks have specific nesting requirements. They frequently exploit abandoned woodpeckers or other animal holes to nest and lay their eggs.

15. Males have red eyes

Male wood ducks can be identified by their red eyes and their bright coloring.

16. The male is described as a drakes

Male ducks are known as drakes, while female ducks are ducks.

17. At night, they sleep on the water

Females with young sleep away from danger, preferably on the bank or on logs. The majority of wood ducks roost and sleep on the water.

18. Wood Ducks Can Lay Two Broods Per Year

They are one of the only duck species known to have more than one brood per year.

19. They can swim underwater.

Ducks can lower their oxygen consumption and stay underwater for a minute or more when diving for food.