Wood Duck

The Wood Duck is a common bird in North America, but one of the most beautiful. It is about 20 inches long and usually weighs 1 1/4 pound. But its wingspan is 29 inches! Male wood ducks are very impressive: they have green heads with white streaks in the feathers, red eyes, purple chests, white throats, beige sides and bluish backs. Females are plainer with bluish backs and a white teardrop shaped eye patch.

Wood ducks live on the Atlantic coast from Canada to Florida and inland by river and ponds. They also like swamps and marshes. Most ducks in Canada will migrate to the southeastern USA for the winter and return in the summer. Wood ducks are mainly plant-eaters: they look for sea grasses, leaves, and acorns near their water homes. However, young ducklings need high protein foods to grow; their day is supplimented with insects, spiders, beetles, and other bugs. The wood duck does not dive for its food. Instead, it swims on the surface of the water and looks for plants that have floated to the top.

This kind of duck nests and mates around April, after returning home from its southern migration. Wood ducks make their nests in the hollows of trees or in fallen logs near water where they can hide their eggs. Females will begin to mate when they are 1 year old. After mating, the duck lays 8 to 15 eggs and guards them for 28 days--until they hatch. They new chicks start to climb to the ground soon after hatching and are able to walk on their own. They are then taken to the water by the mother to begin to learn to look for food and swim. Males do not take part in raising the chicks. In about 9 weeks the young ducks will be independent.

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