The Travels of Tug 44

Wood Duck

Wood Ducks are some of the more beautiful ducks with their amazing colors. They live in marshes and are mostly vegetarians though they will also eat bugs when they can. I photographed these in an old abandoned section of the Champlain Canal.   high-res

The male Wood Duck has some really spectacular colors, every inch of him is highly decorated, but they are shy and tend to hide behind brush when possible.   high-res

The females are mostly brown, with white circles around their eyes, and they have the same blue marks on the wings that Mallard Ducks have.   high-res

This is a closeup of a female Wood Duck. Her mostly brown coloring makes her less noticeable out on the water, but she still prefers to be hidden in among cattail plants or under the brush at the shoreline. Her white "eye makeup" makes her definitely a Wood Duck.   high-res

Female Wood Ducks tend to congregate in small groups when not in breeding season. They are quite social, like most ducks are. That's Mom (an adult female) in the middle and the two others with her are nearly-grown chicks. The chicks still have the eye stripe and their white eye-makeup is not yet teardrop shaped as the adult females have.   high-res

Cuteness Overload! This is a bunch of Wood Duck chicks, maybe a week old. They left the nest a day or so after they hatched and Mom led them directly to the water. They can feed themselves right away, but they do need Mom around to teach them where the best food can be found and she keeps them safe from predators. No they cannot fly yet, but they can swim very fast already.   high-res

A week later, the little ones have grown dramatically, but they still cannot fly. They zoom around like little motor boats, chasing bugs and eating duckweed. Wood Ducks practice "egg dumping" where a female will lay her eggs in another female's nest and nest owner will raise them all. Recently a female was photographed with some 76 chicks following her. Females will sometimes leave their chicks with another female for babysitting.   high-res

This is a group of 8 immature Wood Ducks, they are almost grown, but have not yet developed their usual fear of people and cars. They were sitting around preening right in the middle of a dirt road along the Hudson River.   high-res

Another immature female Wood Duck in the swamp, she is posing with her turtle friend.   high-res

... then she noticed I was photographing the turtle, so she got jealous and ran over and kicked the turtle into the water, then she started posing for me. Yes, this story sounds silly, but what else could be going on? :)   high-res

The Wood Duck, a small duck with some unexpected camouflage skills.

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