Male wood ducks have a crested head that is iridescent green and purple with a white stripe leading from the eye to the end of the crest and another, narrower white stripe from the base of the bill to the tip of the crest. The throat is white and the chest is burgundy with white flecks, gradually grading into a white belly. The bill is brightly patterned black, white, and red. The legs and feet are dull straw-yellow, and the iris is red. The male call is a thin, high, rising "jeeeeee." Female wood ducks have a gray-brown head and neck with a brownish, green glossed crest. A white teardrop shaped patch surrounds the brownish-black eye. The throat is white and the breast is gray-brown stippled with white fading into the white belly. The back is olive-brown with a shimmer of iridescent green. The bill is blue-gray and the legs and feet are dull grayish-yellow. Females utter a drawn-out, rising squeal, "oo-eek" when flushed, and a sharp "cr-r-ek, cr-e-ek" for an alarm call.
Breeding Wood Ducks in captivity presents no problems as long as you provide a nest box. The nest boxes need to be at least 10" square and depth of 2 feet. The boxes should be placed about 20" or so off the ground, and an entrance hole should be about 4" in diameter. A ladder, leading from the ground to the entrance hole, must be provided if the birds have been restricted (pinioned), from flying. Nesting material must be placed inside the box, I have used sawdust, pine shavings and dry leaves. The hen will pull some breast feathers to line the nest. A piece of wire mesh or screen should be placed in side the box, just beneath the entrance hole. This enables the hen and the ducklings to get traction on the flat plywood.
The breeding season begins in April and the hens will lay a clutch of about 15 cream colored eggs. I have seen several of my hens nest in one box, leaving the eggs for one hen to incubate, so clutch sizes may vary if you have more than one pair in the aviary. The eggs hatch in about 28 to 30 days and the ducklings grow quickly and are able to fly at about 8 to 10 weeks. The ducklings are very active and need a spacious brooder if not raised by the mother. Young males will resemble their adult counterparts by their first fall.
The Wood Duck, along with the Mandarin, are the
two best and most often, the first ducks a beginner to
this hobby has. They are extremely hardy and a great
choice for those with limited space. I once had
success in an aviary that measured only 10'x10'. Wood
Ducks are compatible with other species of waterfowl,
as well as other birds as long as the aviary is large
enough to give each species it's own space.
Although the ducks would prefer a large pond, it is
not necessary. I've seen people make some very
attractive ponds out of wading pools and large tubs.
Just be sure to provide plenty of fresh, clean water.
Wood Ducks are very fast fliers, and if the bird's
wings are not clipped or pinioned, you will need a
Place Mouse over Pictures to Enlarge
Wood Duck Pair