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North Carolina Wildlife Species Information

Wood Duck - Aix sponsa

Wood Duck Aix sponsa

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 13.5 inches Wingspan: 28 inches
  • A medium-sized duck with a long crest on head
  • Long-winged and long-tailed
  • Blue-green speculum with white rear border

Adult male alternate:

  • Alternate plumage worn from Fall-through early summer
  • Red bill
  • Red eye
  • Green head
  • Striking white stripes about face and crest with a large white throat patch and "fingerlike" extensions onto cheek and neck
  • Chestnut breast and neck with vertical white stripe at lower margin
  • Golden flanks bordered above by a white flank stripe
  • White belly
  • Iridescent dark green-blue back and wings

Adult male basic:

  • In basic plumage, the male resembles the female, but often retains the distinctive neck patch and red bill

Adult female:

  • Gray bill
  • White teardrop shaped patch around eye
  • White throat
  • Gray-brown head and neck
  • Gray-brown breast stippled with white and fading to a white belly
  • Dark brown back

Juvenal plumage:

  • Gray bill
  • Female similar to adult female
  • Males similar to adult females, but with white neck patch

Similar species:

Adult male is unmistakable. Female, immature and eclipse males are nondescript, but distinctive in face pattern, shape and speculum pattern.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.

Above information used courtesy of United States Geological Survey.

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