A Duck That Perches In Trees, Nests In Tree Cavities And Eats Acorns?
This May Not Sound Like Ordinary Duck Behaviour, But It Is Just What You Would Expect From A Wood Duck!
Wood ducks are beautiful birds, with swooping white-patterned stripes, red eyes, and stunning metallic green, blue and bronze plumage. Females are less eye-catching but have striking white rings around their eyes.
Wood ducks can be found in open woodlands surrounding lakes, rivers, wetlands, and even within city and town parks. Female wood ducks, or hens, nest in tree cavities, usually near water. Wood ducks will not excavate their own cavities but will find existing holes. Sometimes they are formed by natural processes, such as decay, or they may be excavated by birds such as pileated woodpeckers. Dead or dying trees (called snags) are excellent sources of insects and larvae for these pecking birds. In spring, hens will generally return to the place where they hatched, find a suitable cavity, lay 11-14 eggs, and incubate them for 27-30 days. One day after hatching, the ducklings leap from the nest cavity—sometimes dozens of metres high!
At the turn of the century, Wood Duck populations across North America were critically low as a result of overhunting and clearing of the mature forests that they call home. This wide spread habitat destruction was further exacerbated by the selective removal of dead and dying trees that most likely offered nesting cavities.
To re-establish our wood duck population, FortWhyte launched the Winnipeg Wood Duck project in the early 1970’s, resulting in the deployment of over 100 nest boxes along the city’s waterways!
How You Can Help
If you are a riverbank resident and would like to enhance your backyard habitat for this unique wildlife viewing opportunity, become a FortWhyte Alive Member and wood duck watcher. A FortWhyte volunteer will come to your home to install a duck box to encourage nesting and help maintain the Wood Duck population in Manitoba!
Upcoming Wood Duck Events
Click here to join the wood duck program today. By supporting the Wood Duck Project, not only are you increasing biodiversity within Winnipeg, but you are also supporting environmental education in your community!