Orphaned Wood Duck

provided by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife

The wood duck is one of the most stunning waterfowl species. Males are a striking iridescent green and chestnut with striped markings across the face and elaborate patterns embellished on nearly every feather. Females have a distinctive pattern of gray and brown feathers with a white circle around the eye. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws capable of gripping bark and perching on branches.

Wood ducks live in bottomland forests, swamps, freshwater marshes, beaver ponds, and are commonly found along streams, creeks, and rivers. They do best in open water habitats that provide heavy vegetative cover where they can hide from predators and forage for food. In the early 1900’s, this species was threatened with extinction. The cause of decline in the population was attributed to loss of nesting sites due to the clear cutting of many large trees combined with hunting. The wood duck’s recovery to healthy population numbers was an early triumph of wildlife management services.

Nesting occurs most commonly in the cavities of large trees situated either directly over the water or nearby. They typically choose a tree from one to two feet in diameter. The cavity can sit anywhere from two to 60 feet high. Although they have strong claws, the cavities are usually the result of a branch breaking off the tree and the wood rotting to create a hole. Wood ducks benefit from artificial nest boxes placed in open marshes. Females will line the inside of the nest with down feathers she takes from her breast.

Females typically lay one or two broods each year containing anywhere from six to 16 eggs. They will incubate for up to 37 days and once the chicks hatch, they are alert with a full coat of down feathers. One day after hatching, the chicks will climb to jump out of the entrance of the cavity and leave the nest. Females will care for their young for about five to six weeks before they are capable of flight at eight to nine weeks old.

The diet of a wood duck consists mostly of seeds, fruits, and insects. If aquatic foods are scarce, they will take to land and consume acorns, nuts, and grains from forested areas and fields. Some examples of what they eat include soybeans, smartweed, water primrose, duckweed, millet, waterlily, blackberries, and wild cherries in addition to beetles, flies, caterpillars, and snails.

On July 4, a nestling wood duck (#21-3683) was admitted to the clinic after being found alone. As an otherwise healthy orphan, the duckling was transferred into rehabilitative care. The duckling began with seven tub times each day and now has been enjoying five tub times every day. The duckling has been gaining weight steadily and seems to be doing well overall.

THIS WEEK AT CROW (7/30-8/6):
There were 120 new patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital including 11 loggerhead sea turtles, nine eastern gray squirrels, seven black bellied whistling ducks, three snowy egrets, an American avocet, a barred owl, and a green sea turtle hatchling. Recent Releases include a black crowned night heron, a red-shouldered hawk, a common gallinule, and an osprey. Check out a full list of CROW’s current patients and recent releases!

Wildlife doesn’t have health insurance! Your donations help cover the costs of medical and rehabilitative care for over 5,000 patients admitted to CROW’s Wildlife Hospital each year!

Want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation? Stop by CROW’s Visitor Education Center, 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.

About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond.  Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to http://www.crowclinic.org. If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.