Animal of the Month: The American Wood Duck

American Wood Duck Pair

The American Wood Duck is found in most areas around the United States and the southern part of Canada. During the winters, they tend to migrate from the northern areas to more southerly ones.

This colorful bird was once nearly hunted into oblivion. Habitat dwindled as well, which contributed to the loss of the Wood Duck. However, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, numbers are now strong with about three million breeding pairs across the continent today.

Wood Ducks are an average sized duck, weighing about 2-3 pounds. The males can easily be spotted when in color because they have a distinctive green, blue, and purple head. Their bills are a reddish pink and their eyes are red. The females are a smoky brown color and have a distinctive white ring around their dark eyes. They have a blue iridescence in their wing feathers. Their bills are a smoky color – not red as on the males.

Because Wood Ducks like to land on “perches” and lay their eggs in hollow trees or specially made Wood Duck boxes, they are sometimes called perching ducks. They are dabblers, not divers. Their favorite foods are acorns, seeds, and grains they might find in farmers’ fields.

Wood Ducks are very easy to raise in a home aviary. They, like all ducks in captivity, require some sort of water. This is especially important in the winter, as it is necessary for the ducks to stay warm. Also, all ducks need a water bath now and then to remove excess oils from their feathers and to generally keep clean and in prime condition. A small pond or pool is fine in an aviary setting, depending upon how many birds one has in the aviary.

You should have a fenced and covered area in which to keep them, especially if you have a lot of natural predators or the birds are full winged (as in all birds purchased from Lifesprings Farm and Aviary).

A common question asked is, “Do I need any special permits to keep Wood Ducks?” The short answer is, “Yes”. The American Wood Duck is native to the United States and, therefore, cannot be kept in a captive setting without a permit. When you purchase Wood Ducks from Lifesprings Farm and Aviary, you will be asked to sign a Federal Sales and Disposal Form that shows we transferred native birds to you. For the permit that is required, you should contact your local Department of Natural Resources for a permit to keep waterfowl in captivity. This is not expensive and is easy to do with a DNR officer.

If you choose to keep a pair or two of the American Wood Duck, you will have some of the most beautiful ducks that our continent has to offer. Maybe you will be fortunate enough to watch a pair raise babies in the wild. If you have water on your property that ducks like to visit, consider putting a wood duck box up. Then watch the fun.


Published by Jeff and Rita

Rita is a wife, mother, homesteader, library branch manager, and freelance writer. She enjoys spending time in the garden and later preserving the harvest. Gardening, knitting, tending to chickens and other critters, and taking long summer walks are among her favorite activities. Jeff has had a long time love of waterfowl and gamebirds. He spends his time working full-time as a medical courier when he is not enjoying his collection of wild ducks and pheasants from around the world.

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Farming & Homesteading + Faith & Family + Good Old Fashioned Country Living


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