Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Water requirements for wood ducks are assumed to be met where suitable brood-rearing and wintering habitat exist.
In order for successful wood duck reproduction and survival to occur, all the habitat components must be available in relative proximity to one another. Since wood ducks are highly mobile during winter, the most critical aspect of habitat interspersion, or the mix of different habitat types, is the proximity of suitable brood-rearing habitat to nesting habitat in the spring. The highest-quality nesting habitat is of little use if the nearest brood-rearing habitat is more than a mile distant. Likewise, the best brood-rearing habitat will not support wood duck broods if there is no nesting habitat in the vicinity. In southern areas where wood ducks are year-round residents, the best habitats consist of a complex of forested wetland habitats that include live forest, green-tree reservoirs, rivers, oxbows, riparian corridors, beaver ponds, shrub-scrub and robust emergent herbaceous wetlands.
Since wood ducks are able to nest at some distance from brood-rearing habitat, no reasonable estimate of minimum nesting habitat size exists. In addition, no good estimates for minimum wintering habitat area are available due to the high mobility of wintering birds. However, at least 10 acres of wetland or other aquatic habitat in a contiguous unit, or in isolated parcels separated by no more than 100 feet of upland, is needed in close proximity to nesting habitat to support brood rearing. Lands outside the immediate planning area should be considered when making the determination of minimum habitat area for wood duck reproduction.