The multi-colored iridescent plumage, the red eyes, the white flash of color down the neck – these traits encompass the male Wood Duck. The white eye-ring, the white throat – this alerts one and all that the female has arrived. Those familiar calls of “geeeeee,” “do-weep do-weep,” and that call of alarm – “cr-r-ek, cr-e-ek,” are the sounds that the Wood Duck adds to the hunting landscape – sounds that should never be lost.
From the wooded swamps to the shallow lakes and ponds, these important creatures span from the east to the west all the way down to Mexico, and they are the absolute favorites of hunters everywhere.
Unlike most of the other variety of ducks, the Wood Duck boasts sharp claws which allow them to easily perch in trees where females lay between seven and fifteen eggs. What many already know is the fact that the Wood Duck has seen many of their habitats destroyed, and find themselves more often than not vulnerable to both the natural elements, as well as pesky raccoons and snakes that wish to do the duck harm. Constructing nesting boxes for the species is something that many people do in order to make sure the Wood Duck remains plentiful.
A good nesting box is made of cedar and offers a bed of shavings so that the female can be comfortable. Not to mention, any overhanging branches that a predator could use to enter the box should be clipped away so that the duck has a safe and secure place to nest. Now once those little ducklings arrive in the world, they literally jump down from their nesting place and head for water, which is why all nesting boxes should be built no more than ten yards away from the water they need to survive.
Although the word ‘bravery’ is not really something you would use in a sentence about a duck, these are actually an extremely brave species. You see, even though the mother lays the eggs and calls her young to her when they need to head to that water – she offers no help whatsoever; which means these ducklings – without fright and by instinct only – jump from the nest without injury. They can also swim on their own and find their food with no help at all.
Unlike many articles where the word ‘endangered’ has to appear, the Wood Duck population, thus far, are good to go. And, they have become the most popular waterfowl due to their attractive plumage – which makes sure that conservationists and the hunting community protect the species so that their populations remain wide safe.
Back in the late 19th Century this information was very different. The Wood Duck population back then was rapidly declining – caused by both habitat loss and market hunting both for meat and plumage, believe it or not, that was used for the ladies’ hat trade in Europe. Wood Ducks had basically disappeared from their former ranges, but with the 1916 Migratory Bird Treaty combined with the enactment of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918, the Wood Duck began to come back to life – literally – in the 1920s. Then, those artificial testing boxes were created in the 1930s and helped them even more.
Landowners, community members, park employees, they all began building Wood Duck nesting boxes near lakes, ponds and streams – conserving crucial habitats for the species to breed. During the open waterfowl season, U.S. hunters are allowed to take anywhere from two to three Wood Ducks per day depending on the state and location they’re hunting in.
It is extremely nice to know that a once endangered species came back from the brink with the help of man; the recovery of the Wood Duck in North America is certainly a tale that all species should share. A victory – a success story – oh, to have the tiger, wolf, polar bear, rhino, etc., “own” that same announcement one of these fine days.
No one wants to even think about what the world would be without the most popular duck adding their amazing ‘color’ to the waterfowl realm; which is a sentiment that stands for the rest of our amazing wildlife as well!