Wood duck a bit of an oddball

The wood duck is a little duck. It also is a duck of many colours, and has a crested head. It also nests in trees.
Not entirely an oddball, but maybe not too far from it.
The drake of this species has the most vivid and varying colouring of any duck in the New World, or anywhere else for that matter. Those brilliant feathers once were one of the main reasons for hunting these little ducks—for the decoration of ladies’ hats.
Nowadays, they are hunted because they are palatable, and because their flying behaviour gives a capable hunter a fairly challenging target.
This is one of the tree-nesting ducks, but there are several other species which nest in hollow trees, as well. The nest of the wood duck is usually in a cavity in a dead tree or in an old woodpecker hole.
The nest may be anywhere from three feet to more than 50 feet up.
After the little ducklings hatch and dry off, they usually just jump out of the nest. They are so light and fluffy that they never seem to get hurt.
The normal thing after that is for the mother to lead her brood to the water, which may be quite a long piece away.
Wood ducks are a wood-dwelling species, hence the name. They frequent little woodland lakes and ponds—even beaver ponds. They often feed in the forest far away from the water, gobbling up berries, young shoots, and especially acorns and other nuts.
They are very fond of rice, both wild and domestic, but (unlike many other species of ducks) they rarely go to grain fields at all.
The wood duck is essentially a U.S. species, only breeding in the southern parts of Canada. They are seen all across southern Ontario, but in the north, mostly in the Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake areas.
They also hang out in the lakes of Manitoba.
Some birds are very easy to domesticate—and this is one of them. Even those which are captured in the wild soon become accustomed to people.
Those hatched out in captivity become just as domestic as your average barnyard chicken.
It also is very easy to induce wood ducks to use artificial nest boxes. In many parts of the U.S., as well as some places in Canada, the wood duck population has been brought back greatly by the use of suitable nesting structures.
These are usually boxes on posts, not too far from the water.
Ask your local MNR people. They probably will give you some plans or tell you where to get them.
Next time you are out on a sheltered bay, or in a small woodsy lake, keep your eye out for Aix sponsa—the wood duck. You may see him on the water or sticking his head out of a hole in a tree.
In any case, he will be the prettiest duck you will ever see.

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