Carolina wood duck

(Aix sponsa)


Carolina wood duck IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The wood duck is a small perching duck with a body-weight of about 680-860 g in males and about 540 g in females. It is 47-54 cm long and has a wingspan of 66-73 cm. The tail is rather long.

The drake has a glossy, colourful plumage and a sleek crest. Its bill is red-coloured at the base. Head pattern and bill colour are retained in the drab eclipse plumage. The female has a short crest and a dull grey-brown plumage with a large teardrop-shaped eye patch.

The female lays 13 to 15 white eggs in a tree cavity often near or overhanging water, and incubates them alone for 30 days. Because natural cavities for nesting are scarce, the wood duck often uses nest boxes provided for it. If nest boxes are placed too close together, many females lay eggs in the nests of other females. These "dump" nests can have up to 40 eggs.

Did you know?
that, in the United States, the wood duck is the most abundant duck species nesting east of the Mississippi River?


Class AVES
Suborder ANSERES
Name (Scientific) Aix sponsa
Name (English) Carolina wood duck
Name (French) Canard carolin
Name (German) Brautente
Name (Spanish) Pato joyuyo
Local names Dutch: Carolina-eend
Italian: Anatra sposa
Portuguese: Pato-carolino
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Appendix II (as Anatidae spp.)



Photo Copyright by
John Harrison



Range North America and Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Cuba, Dominica, Greenland, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States, British and US Virgin Islands, United States. Vagrants may be encountered in Jamaica, the Netherlands Antilles and Iceland. Small population in the United Kingdom, where the species was introduced in the 1870s. Small numbers, essentially of escaped birds, occur, but rarely breed, in continental Europe, e.g. in Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland
Habitat Permanent rivers, streams, creeks, ponds dams and lakes.
Wild population The global population is estimated to be 3,500,000 individuals by Wetlands International (2002).
Zoo population 1655 reported to ISIS (2006).

In the Zoo

Carolina wood duck


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 18 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Richard Bartz

Why do zoos keep this animal

Keeping Carolina wood ducks as ornamental fowl has a long tradition. Zoos keep them for educational purposes because they display interesting behaviours, and as an ambassador species for wetland conservation.