Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wood Duck

Aix sponsa
Wood Ducks are known as one of the prettiest of all the ducks, and in in my opinion is takes the top prize out of the North American species. They are found throughout the continent, with some populations remaining sedentary and some migrating between the north and south.

If you're looking at the Wood Duck and thinking how similar it is tot he Mandarin Duck, you're definately on to something. Those are the only two living species that share the genus Aix!

As with many birds, only the male Wood Ducks posses the bright colors. They have iridescent green and purple crested heads, with additional bold patterning throughout the body. Females are grayish-brown, though they also sport a crest.

During the breeding season Males will perform different diving and preening gestures to attract a mate. Once they are paired up they build nests in cavities or in man-made nest boxes. The rise of nest boxes may have caused some confusion within the species, as the rate of brood parasitism has increased. Broos Parasitism is when female ducks lay their eggs in different nests, so that their chicks are raised by different parents. Though they only lay 10-11 eggs, some nests have had over 30 in them!

Back in the 19th century Wood Ducks were hunted extensively, and the population suffered. They are still hunted today, and are the most popular Duck after the Mallard, but conservation and wetland management has allowed the population to rebound to steady, healthy levels.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : South East Asia
Size : Length around 21in (54cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Anseriformes
Family : Anatidae -- Genus : Aix -- Species : A. sponsa

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