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Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

General Information


Wood Duck The wood duck is considered by many bird watchers to be North America's most colorful waterfowl species. Its scientific name, Aix sponsa, translates into "waterbird in bridal dress." Today the wood duck is one of the most common waterfowl species breeding in the United States. However, this was not always the case. Writings from the early 19th century indicate that wood ducks were in abundant supply and very popular for their tasty meat and bright decorative feathers. By the late 1880's, unregulated hunting and destruction of woodland and wetland habitat had caused the wood duck population to decline to alarmingly low levels. By the beginning of the 20th century, wood ducks had virtually disappeared from much of their former range.

In response to the Migratory Bird Treaty established in 1916 and enactment of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918, wood duck populations began to slowly recover. By ending unregulated hunting and taking measures to protect remaining habitat, wood duck populations began to rebound in the 1920's. The development of the artificial nesting box in the 1930's gave an additional boost to wood duck production. Wood ducks eagerly accepted boxes as suitable nesting sites, and over the following fifty years, conservation groups and individuals helped increase numbers of wood ducks by preserving habitat and erecting nest boxes. The combination of hunting restrictions and habitat conservation and management measures enabled wood duck populations to rebound enough to support conservative hunting in the 1940's. The story of the wood duck is an example of how active wildlife management techniques can have a tremendous effect on the overall success of an individual species.

This pamphlet is designed to serve as an introduction to the habitat requirements of the wood duck and to assist in the development of a comprehensive wood duck management plan. The success of any individual species management plan depends on targeting the specific needs of the species and analyzing the designated habitat areas as a whole to ensure that all habitat requirements are present. This guide also provides recommendations for monitoring the program to ensure successes are documented and problems are addressed before they impact the success of the overall management plan.


This resource is based on the following source:
Anonymous.  No date.  Wood Duck (Aix sponsa).  U.S. Department of Agriculture, 
     Natural Resources Conservation Service, Madison, MS, and Wildlife Habitat 
     Council, Silver Spring, MD.  Fish and Wildlife Habitat Management Leaflet.  
     12 pages.
This resource should be cited as:
Anonymous.  No date.  Wood Duck (Aix sponsa).  U.S. Department of Agriculture,
     Natural Resources Conservation Service, Madison, MS, and Wildlife Habitat
     Council, Silver Spring, MD.  Fish and Wildlife Habitat Management Leaflet.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/woodduck/index.htm 
     (Version 16AUG99).

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