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Wood Ducks Make Unique Parents

Wood duck photo featuring words: I'm an Odd Duck

These breeding and parenting practices have led to success for wood ducks.

diagram of wood duck chicks jumping from a tree to the ground
  • Pick early: Choosing mates as early as January, most arrive to spring breeding grounds paired up.
  • Nest high: Wood ducks nest in existing tree cavities or in elevated human-made nest boxes.
  • Don’t play favorites: Females often engage in egg dumping (or laying eggs in another wood duck’s nest). Victims of egg dumping will incubate the imposter eggs and raise the ducklings as their own.
  • Expect big things: Shortly after the ducklings hatch, the female leaves the nest and calls for them to join her. Lucky ducklings have a short run or scramble to the water, but some will jump from as high as 50 feet on to solid ground without injury.

Support for Bird the Preserves was generously provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Chicago Wilderness.