Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Wood Duck
 
 

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  Order Anseriformes - Waterfowl
   Family Anatidae - Ducks, Geese, and Swans
      Subfamily Anatinae - True Ducks
         Tribe Cairini - Perching Ducks
  Waterfowl vary in size - from teal to swans. They all have webbed feet and dense, waterproof plumage. Most nest on the ground and the nest is lined with down plucked by the female from her breast. Except for two small groups not found in North America, all belong to one (or two) families.
Ducks, Geese, and Swans are waterfowl with their bill finely serrated or grooved on the edge. Their tongue is fleshy. Their front toes are webbed. Males have a functional penis. They are strong fliers and many migrate long distances. 
True Ducks are sexually dimorphic. The female incubates and cares for the young - the male usually deserts early. Ducks undergo a simultaneous molt of their flight feathers and are flightless until the flight feathers of the alternate plumage regrow. Thus, males wear their nuptial plumage on the winter grounds where pair formation occurs in most species. 
Perching Ducks are short-legged and nest in tree cavities (or boxes).  
     
MORE (Order)      MORE (Family)
     
  Wood Duck, Aix sponsa 
 
 Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        YEAR ROUND - Occasional / Rare
            INLAND SWAMPS, WOODED PONDS, RIVER BOTTOMS
MORE PICTURES
 
   The Wood Duck is a small-billed, long-tailed duck with a bushy mane. They are brightly colored and adults have red eyes and a white "bridle" on their neck. Males have yellow flanks. They fly with their heads raised and can be identified in flight by their posture.
Wood Duck
     
A pair of Wood Ducks at Magnolia Gardens Photo by Ed Konrad
   
  RANGE:  Wood Ducks are widely distributed in eastern areas of the US and along the west coast. More northern birds move south in winter, traveling as far as Cuba and the Bahamas. Wood Ducks prefer sheltered water with trees - rivers, ponds, and wooded swamps.
   Wood Ducks were hunted extensively and much natural habitat was destroyed - by the early 1900s the species was nearly extinct. Preservation of wetlands and the provision of nest boxes has aided in their recovery.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One, sometimes two (in the south), broods. They nest in tree-cavities (or a nest box), often well above ground, and not necessarily near water. They line their cavity with chips and down. The female builds the nest. she lays 9-14 (10-15) eggs and incubation takes 25-35 days (only the female incubates). Development is precocial. Young remain in nest 24 hours. They use sharp claws to climb out of the cavity and jump to the ground where they follow the female to water. Young can submerge like a grebe or dive to reach cover if disturbed. Young are able to fly after 56-70 days. The female takes care of the young. Sometimes, two broods fuse.
   Some nests may contain more than 15 eggs (up to 50 or so). This results from 2-10 or more females dumping their eggs in the nest (nest parasitism). The female will repel parasitizing females if they are found.
  DIET: Wood Ducks eat seeds, acorns, berries, grain, insects and other invertebrates. Acorns are a major food item in many areas.
  VOICE: Thin, squeaky whistles. The male's wing produces a whistle similar to that of the Mallard.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
   Seabrook. Kiawah - occasional, year-round. Edisto - resident.
   Coastal - common permanent resident. Hilton Head - common permanent resident. Cape Romain - common year round, breeds.
      Huntington Beach - rare, March - September; uncommon October - February.
   Caw Caw - common year-round, breeds. ACE - common year-round (abundant winter), breeds.
   CBC: ACE 443, 1446, 721, 521, 763, 851, 166, 678; Charleston 30, 16, 10, 4, 3, 37, 26, 35;
            St  Helena/Fripp 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 2, 46; Hilton Head 547, 465, 738, 116, 22, 374, 82; SunCity/Okatie 0, 22, 2, 13, 13, 5, 15, 44;
            McClellanville 388, 37, 567, 23, nc, 16, 55, 197; Winyah Bay x, x, 85, 15, 77, 8, 1, 40; Litchfield/Pawley's 125, 52, 180, 35, 115, 21, 33, 179.
   SCBBA: All counties.
   P&G: Common resident most of SC. Maximum - 2,000 Charleston, 9 November 1973; 1,500 Meggett, 15 December 1952. Egg dates: 20 January - 11 August.
   M&P: Breeding populations have increased over the past 25 years. Related to nest box programs and expansion in number of small ponds.
   Avendex: 3 records
   Potter: Fairly common to common permanent resident. Less numerous in winter.
  ●   Occasional to rare. Seabrook doesn't have ideal habitat. Wood Duck boxes are available at the Jenkins Point marshes, Moccasin Swamp, and other areas around Camp St. Christopher but don't seem to be in use. (Note that Screech Owls and whistling-ducks may also use these boxes - watch for them.) Wood Ducks probably do not breed on either Kiawah or Seabrook.
   I have seen Wood Ducks in/over the Jenkins Point marsh and on the new lake at Freshfields Village but don't find them common on Seabrook. Visit the Audubon Swamp Garden at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Dungannon Plantation or Caw Caw to see these gaudy ducks.
       
    Banner - Wood Duck family at Middleton Place
       
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