Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bird a Day: Wood Duck

Wood Ducks are small, beautiful ducks that range over much of the eastern part of North America and parts of the pacific coast.  They are unique in that they nest in tree cavities or nest boxes, sometimes as far away as a mile from the nearest water.  When the ducklings hatch they leap from the tree cavity and plunge to the ground (watch this video from the Planet Earth series).  It is quite a way to make your entrance into the world.  They are common in many habitats like bottomland forests, swamps, and beaver ponds.

Wood Ducks

The male Wood Duck looks like something out of a painting with various shades of greens and chestnut.  His feathers are iridescent and shimmer when the sun strikes them at the right angle.  His bill is bright orange-red and his eyes are bright red as well.  The female is less colorful but is still beautiful.  She is streaked brown underneath and a gray-blue on her head.  Her beak is similarly colored and the outstanding field mark for female Wood Ducks is the white teardrop around the eye.  This pair was seen at McNeely Lake on Saturday when I was birding for the Birdathon.


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