Aix sponsa Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Wood ducks are the most abundant resident wild ducks in Florida. Males are brightly colored, while females are a muted gray brown.
Wood ducks prefer wooded wetlands, streams or swampy areas; they feed on floating mast, fruit and seeds of water tupelo, oaks and cypress. They are unusual among ducks in that they are hole nesters. A shortage of nest cavities limits their nesting, but fortunately these ducks readily use nest boxes.
The recovery of wood duck populations is one of North America’s conservation success stories. In the early 1900s the species was almost extinct. Destruction of bottomland hardwood swamps and hunting had decimated wood duck populations across the eastern USA. The recovery began with the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918, which prohibited the hunting of wood ducks nationwide. The wide-scale use of artificial nest boxes also contributed to the wood duck’s recovery and populations rebounded; hunting seasons reopened in 1941.
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