Birds of the Mid-Atlantic #7: Wood Duck
The exotic look is no accident, as the wood duck has no close relatives in North America. Its closest relative is the mandarin duck, native to eastern Asia. They are the only two members of the genus, Aix.
Wood ducks are unique in another way, as well. Unlike other North American dabbling ducks, wood ducks are cavity nesters. (Most dabbling ducks nest on the ground.) Originally, this meant holes in trees about 20 feet up. Now, in addition to natural cavities, wood ducks will take advantage of nest boxes. Because they are cavity nesters, wood ducks face the threat of predation by squirrels and raccoons. While natural cavities offer little protection against this threat, nestboxes can deter such predation with the use of baffles.
Crossposted at A DC Birding Blog.
Labels: Birds of the Mid-Atlantic