Wood Ducks: Aix sponsa
Wood ducks (Aix sponsa) are perhaps the most beautiful duck in North America. Wood ducks are small to medium sized ducks, with a noticeably crested head. Males are brightly colored, while females are brownish gray. Both males and females have a white patch around the eyes and throat.
Florida is home to both year-round (resident) and migratory wood ducks. Wood ducks are admired by people throughout Florida, in fact, they are the most abundant resident wild ducks in the state.
Wood ducks inhabit wooded, brushy, or other vegetated wetland areas. Wood ducks nest in tree cavities near lakes, rivers, ponds, and other wetland areas. Often nest cavities are in short supply which can limit the size of wood duck populations. Fortunately, wood ducks readily accept manmade next boxes in place of natural cavities. FWC personnel maintain wood duck nest boxes on public waters throughout the state and also cooperate with private citizens, government agencies, and groups such as local Ducks Unlimited chapters and Boy Scout troops to maintain and erect boxes. Information is available on how to build a wood duck nest box.
Wood ducks spend most of their time in vegetated or wooded wetlands. This makes them difficult to see and count during aerial surveys, unlike other waterfowl species that inhabit more open-water areas. Since wood ducks cannot be counted reliably during aerial surveys, populations have been monitored through banding, experimental monitoring of nest boxes, and harvest surveys.
According to assessments by FWC's waterfowl management staff, reproduction of wood ducks in Florida has been typical for the species and higher than for other duck species. The population growth rate for females in Florida suggests a stable population, and Florida wood ducks are harvested at a low rate. In other words, the indicators we have of population status for this species show no cause for concern, and harvest levels appear to be sustainable.