Evolutionary biologists and amateur photographer John Avise continues with his series on North American ducks. The object is for readers to learn all our ducks as a project in quarantine. You have to guess which one is shown in these photographs, and then see the answer, a duck fact, and a range map below the fold. John’s comments are indented.
Now, name this duck (many of you will get this one):
Click “read more” to get more facts about this species:
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)
In summer months, drakes assume an “eclipse” plumage that is much duller than the colorful breeding plumage they wear in winter and spring (when they are courting hens). This species prefers wooded swamps and freshwater ponds where nesting occurs in tree cavities (or sometimes in human-supplied nest boxes; see photo). These birds often perch on large lower limbs of trees (or sometimes on split-rail fences; see photos). Breeding populations across the eastern half of the United States are geographically disjunct from those in several far-western states.
A range map: