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Wood Duck

Aix sponsa

A beautiful medium sized duck, and the State bird of Mississippi. The male is ornately adorned with multicolored iridescent plumage, red eyes, chestnut, flashes of white, and a distinctive drooping crest. The female is duller, but has her own beauty, with a white eye ring, spotted sides, and a less obvious crest. In Florida, the Wood duck is a resident species. When most other duck species migrate north for their breeding season, the wood duck stays year-round. They nest in tree cavities, often close to water, but may also choose a location over a mile from a body of water. The nest cavity may be anywhere from two to over fifty feet above the ground. After hatching, the ducklings follow their mother to the water, leaping unaided from their nest, bouncing on the ground, uninjured from the experience. At the beginning of the twentieth century Wood ducks had become rare, due to habitat loss, hunting for meat, and feathers for the ladies’ hat market. Laws passed in the first quarter of the twentieth century allowed the Wood duck to recover. Artificial nest boxes also contributed to conservation efforts and continue to be offered to the ducks in many parks, including here at Piney Z Lake.