How to Identify a Wood Duck

Updated: Dec. 17, 2021

If you live near water, put up a nest box and you may attract a wood duck to your yard. Learn about wood duck nests and hear their song.

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Wood Duck Information

Michael R. Duncan
Wood Duck

Scientific Name: Aix sponsa.
Family: Duck.
Length: 18 inches.
Wingspan: 29 inches.
Distinctive Markings: Male has an iridescent “slicked-back” crest, red eyes, a bill striped with yellow, red, white and black, a bright-white “bridle” and boldly colored feathers on its body and wings. Female is an overall gray with some blue and purple wing markings, a white eye ring, brown eyes and a  duller bill.

Check out 20 types of ducks to look for in spring.

wood ducksCourtesy Edward Price
Female and male wood ducks

Nest and Eggs

Selects a natural cavity or a nest box, sometimes up to a mile away from water. If you live near water, put up a nest box and you may attract wood ducks to your yard. Make sure it has a 4×3-inch elliptical entrance and is 10 to 30 feet above the ground or 5 to 6 feet above water. Female lays 10 to 12 dull-white eggs.

Check out 9 proven tips to attract nesting birds.

What Do Wood Ducks Eat?

Diet: Aquatic plants, acorns, beechnuts, grapes and berries. In backyards, they may eat cracked corn.

What foods can you feed to ducks?

Bird Song

Listen to the wood duck’s song. Their voice is thin, squeaky whistles. Male uses a drawn-out “jeweeep” call, while females utter a loud “hoo-eek.”

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Range Map and Habitat

Wood ducks prefer wooded areas near lakes, ponds and streams. They will nest in parks or wooded backyards near water.

Wood Duck Bird Species

Range maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.