A Colorful Fellow of the Wood
Aix sponsa, the wood duck, the Carolina duck and also sometimes referred to by old timers as “summer ducks”. To me, they are the most amazing duck and while Mallard is the “King Duck” I would personally give the nod to a flight of 6 woodies over old Mr. Green head. While perhaps the most colorful of waterfowl, their life history requirements, habitat needs, and their adaptability hold high ranking among all waterfowl.
As cavity nesters, woodie populations were challenged as all waterfowl have been in the last century for habitat. Some waterfowl biologists suggest the wood duck was likely the most abundant duck in North America in the precolonial timeframe. From a landscape level perspective throughout the United States it is easy to recognize how millions of acres of cavity providing timberlands have been managed differently or completely lost in this two hundred year period. Fortunately, with some human ingenuity nesting structures were introduced in late 1930’s. Early studies on these structures, “wood duck boxes”, were conducted on National Wildlife refuges and since that time woody populations have seen much improvement from these best practices and other habitat conservation measures enacted at federal, state and local levels to restore and conserve wetland habitats.
A year ago I first wrote about the six wood duck boxes installed at Ridge Farm. Looking For Some Feathered Tenants was the title to the blog post. We reported little success that year. This year I believe we have two boxes occupied with nesting wood ducks so fingers crossed we will have some success. Next year I will put some new boxes around the shallow water “pot holes” constructed last Summer. These wetlands have dense cover around them and will hold some water throughout the summer to provide good brood habitat for the ducklings.
Last Fall, Ridge Farm provided habitat to several hundred wood ducks at times and there was even an afternoon while building a blind the woodies flew all afternoon landing all around us while we worked in one of our impoundments. They are just awesome to watch and they definitely gave us a good run for our money on that opening day morning of duck season in October.
While habitat planning is in full swing for next season at Ridge Farm, I have my fingers crossed we might have some success in raising a few of these beautiful ducks.
Below is a link to Wood Duck Conservation Provided by Ducks Unlimited…