Wood Duck

Aix sponsa

By Jim Gain

Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting the 100 most common Valley bird species.

Post #10 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 15/100.)


The Wood Duck is arguably the most spectacularly beautiful duck in the Central Valley. It is a Fairly Common Year-round Resident throughout the wetlands and waterways of the valley. Similar to other dabbling ducks, the Wood Duck is an omnivore with a broad diet of seeds, fruits, and aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.

Male Wood Ducks at Rahilly Park, Merced


Wood Ducks have a unique shape among ducks—a boxy, crested head, a thin neck, and a long, broad tail. In flight, they hold their head up high, sometimes bobbing it.

Like most waterfowl species, the wood duck is sexually dimorphic with the males sporting a glossy green head cut with white stripes, a chestnut breast and buffy sides. 

Male Wood Duck

Females are gray-brown with a white-speckled breast.

Female Wood Duck at Henderson Park, Merced County


Look for Wood Ducks in wooded swamps, marshes, streams, beaver ponds, and small lakes. They stick to wet areas with trees or extensive cattails. 

At San Joaquin River NWR


Wood Ducks nest in cavities in trees or in man made nest boxes and females may lay 9-14 eggs. The eggs are dull white to pale buff. Incubation is by female only, 25-35 days. Ducklings remain in the nest until the morning after hatching. Clinging with sharp claws and bracing with tails, young climb to the cavity entrance and jump to ground. Young are tended by females for 5-6 weeks, capable of flight at about 8-9 weeks.

Baby Wood Ducklings


Wood Duck Nest Box at San Joaquin River NWR

As a cavity nester, Wood Ducks take readily to nest boxes.

Informative web pages by Ducks Unlimited:


Wood Duck Flight Call by Ed Pandolfino

Previous posts from the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series,

3 thoughts on “Wood Duck”

  1. Pingback: Wood Duck | Nature

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