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Wood Duck Society

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The mission of the Wood Duck Society is to educate and promote sound management of wood duck populations and associated habitats required for their reproduction and survival.

Photo by Roger Strand


The North American Wood Duck Aix sponsa

The beautiful and captivating wood duck is roughly 19-21 inches long, with a wingspan of 26-29 inches wide. It is roughly half the size of a mallard, but most of the comparisons stop there. Wood Ducks are cavity nesters and prefer breeding habitat that includes deciduous trees. They are uniquely equipped to fly through a tangle of branches to reach their nest site in a tree cavity. They have the largest eye of any duck, a broad wing for maneuvering, aided by a tail that is long and wide. Their legs are near the center of their body making them agile on the ground when searching for acorns on a forest floor. Woodies are classified as perching ducks; highly developed toes and claws allow them to grasp and perch on tree branches. 

Feeding: Wood ducks mainly dabble and tip for food in a shallow pond or slough, yet they may dive for acorns that have fallen in shallow water from a nearby oak tree.  The distribution of the wood duck occurs naturally only in North America. There are two separate breeding populations, one in the west  extending from British Columbia south to California and including the high plains of  Montana, and one larger population in the east extending from an expanding western line in the Great Plains east to the Atlantic Ocean and from southern Canada in the north to the Gulf Coast in the south.

The wood duck hen is the only duck to have a white ring completely encompass the eye, making identification easy and accurate Highly developed toes and claws allow perching on tree branches.

Photo by Stephen Straka

Migration of the wood duck is unique. Frank Bellrose, who spent his professional life researching wood ducks, has estimated that overall only about two-thirds of woodies migrate to and from northern breeding grounds. Folks living south of North Carolina, Tennessee and the middle of Arkansas, often refer to woodies as summer ducks, since their local hens stick around to lay their eggs at home. Migratory woodies need open water with aquatic invertebrates as they head north in the spring back to their natal ponds. Philopatry is the instinct that drives a hen back home to a natural cavity or nest box used the previous season or a juvenile hen to return to where she was hatched. Drake wood ducks are mere followers in the spring migration, competing with other drakes along the way for supremacy in pairing with a hen for the season. Wood ducks are not known for lifetime pairings. Habitat destruction and unregulated hunting in the 1800's and early 1900's decimated the wood duck population.  In the early 1900's, with populations at dangerously low levels, statutory protection allowed the woodies to make a remarkable recovery. Nest boxes,installed predominately after the 1940's have played a part in that recovery. Among duck species that nest in tree cavities, the wood duck has been the most successful in adapting to artificial nest boxes. 

The Wood Duck Society, with years of experience and professionals expertise, shares with you, the time proven method for safe and successful wood duck nest box installation and placement. Our method is not only beneficial for the hen and her clutch, but for you with  'no ladders' involved. Check out our Best Practices method.





 Wood Duck



This is a good time to check abandoned or recently used nest boxes and clean them out for the spring season. 





Outdoor News' Annual Wood Duck Challenge 2016

Outdoor News sponsors an annual event encouraging wood duck nest box building.  The Wood Duck Society acknowledges and appreciates the great job they do encouraging not only youth, but everyone interested in box building and also their support for no tree installations.  The quote below is from their website.  Be sure and visit.    

"We are proud to recognize hundreds of kids and Outdoor News readers who build wood duck houses. Each participant receives a special patch and recognition of their work via a personal photo with their house in Outdoor News. Listed below is everything you need to build a wood duck house and submit your photo. Good luck and thanks for  participating!"     


Proper Nest Box Installation will Prevent Four Legged Predation

The Wood Duck Society promotes the "Best Practices" method for installing a wood duck nest box.  The box mount method with 'cone guard' for predators is time proven, resulting in safe monitoring (NO LADDERS), low maintenance and most of all 'NO TREES'.  It is easy for you and prevents most predators including mink, squirrels, snakes and raccoons from killing a hen or destroying a clutch. Complete analysis and instructions can be found in Best Practices. DON'T MISS READING IT!

To purchase nest boxes for your wood duck project, the Wood Duck Society (WDS) recommends checking out the following website. The Minnesota Waterfowl Association for nest boxes. Cone guards can be purchased from Phoenix Metals.  Contact: Mike Schroen, email:   The Wood Duck Society does not make or sell nest boxes or cone guards. The WDS is friends with various groups, but is not directly affiliated with them, and receives no monetary benefits from your purchases.


Photo of fisher compliments of Len Medlock         Photo of raccoon compliments of Ron Bice  

Roger Strand, center photo, teaching kids about the documented "Best Practices" method of nest box installation, to prevent four legged predation.                        


*Frequently Asked Questions

Check out our newly updated 'frequently asked questions' (Wood Duck FAQ). The link contains detailed information about wood ducks, their nesting habits, choosing a nest box design and 'how to tips' for helping you make important decisions on box placement.  



            Previous Wood Duck Society Annual Meeting

               with guest speaker and professional artist Joe Hautman

Professional artist/ Joe Hautman sharing stories and painting techniques regarding his Wood Duck painting that became the '2012 Federal Duck Stamp Award' winner.

Joe Hautman captivates the 75 plus attendees at one of our Wood Duck Society Annual Meetings, at the Wargo Nature Center in Lino Lakes, MN.  


 Spring Cleaning

Its' time to clean out your wood duck nest boxes if you have not already done so. It is also a great time to 'remove' those nest boxes from trees and install them on poles of wood or metal with a "cone guard" to protect the hen from predators. Details for the best time proven installation for your nest box is just a click away under >Best Practices.   Nesting season in the northern states starts in late March and runs through early June.

No time to wait!

The wood duck hen below decided to leave with her brood on June 1st several years ago. One of the young ducklings just couldn't wait! His impatience resulted in his being pushed out, which really got the ball rolling. Eight ducklings and mom left the box safely, but not until making an adventure out of it. Click on the link below to view the short video.

Click here to watch film of the jump.


Nest Box Building from a previous WDS Annual Meeting          

Previous Annual Meeting with excited youth (above), proud of his box building achievement. WDS director, Roger Strand [right / blue shirt] assists another family with their nest box.   


Donations to the WDS

Donations to the Wood Duck Society help us in our quest to educate the public on wood ducks and teach time proven methods for installing wood duck nest boxes.   Your donations also help us to continue our mission through the WDS website.  Cash donations are also welcome and appreciated.  Donations can be sent to the WDS via  John Molkenbur, 4468 Bay Lane, White Bear Lake, MN 55110.