People passionate about nature

Wood Duck

Above: Male Wood Duck (photo by Chris Benson)

What Does It Look Like?
This stunning waterfowl species looks like no other in North America.  Wood Duck males are richly marked with iridescent plumage.  White stripes are found against the square, crested green head, the chin and neck.  The petite bill is mostly red.  Males have red eyes, a lightly speckled, dark chestnut breast and buffy sides.  The neck is long and the tail square.  Females are less “flashy”, being browner overall.  Elegant white teardrop markings surround the dark eyes.  A very small crest can be seen on the head.  The wings bear dark iridescent blue speculum patches.

Above: Wood Ducks (photo by Lynnea Parker)

Does It Migrate?
Populations that breed in more northern areas (including Manitoba) move to the southern USA and northern Mexico for winter. 

Above: Wood Duck (photo by Lynnea Parker)

Where Does It Live?
The eastern populations breed from central Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia and south to the Gulf States and Cuba.   Western populations breed from British Columbia and Montana, south to California, as well as a few isolated populations in central USA. See Manitoba breeding range here.

Above: Wood Duck swimming (photo by Lynnea Parker)

Where Can I See It?

More readily found in southern Manitoba (up to The Pas area) from late March to late September, this species may be found in riparian areas along wooded creeks or rivers, and in wooded swamps, beaver ponds, and marshes.   Good spots to look for them are along Bunn’s Creek, Assiniboine Park and St. Vital Park duck ponds in Winnipeg, Oak Hammock Marsh and in the Whiteshell area. 

Above: Wood Duck swimming (photo by Lynnea Parker)

Despite being hunted to near-extinction in the late 1800s (particularly in the US), Wood Duck numbers in Manitoba are considered secure, and slowly expanding. 

Did You Know?
Because Wood Ducks nest in tree cavities and perch on trees, their feet are equipped with strong, sharp claws to provide them with better traction!

Above: Wood Duck on branch (photo by Chris Benson)