A young wood duck has made itself at home in Johnson Park in Marble Falls, where it also found itself an adoptive mother. One of the most recognizable birds in the United States, wood ducks are rarely found this far north in Texas. Not to be confused with wooden, or decoy, ducks, these birds are more commonly found along the Gulf and Pacific coasts.
This particular duck was spotted by Casey Dobbs of Meadowlakes, who has named it and checks on it daily. Woodie had been in the park for seven days when Dobbs shared the above photograph with DailyTrib.com.
“His colors are amazing,” Dobbs said. “What’s even more amazing, wood ducks don’t quack. They whistle. He is the most beautiful little wood duck.”
Dobbs knows the duck is a he because of his bright coloring. Female wood ducks have less impressive, gray plumage.
Woodie comes when called by Dobbs, usually followed by his protective “mother,” Fiona.
ABOUT WOOD DUCKS
Wood ducks can fly up to 30 mph. They nest in tree cavities or duck boxes and will lay eggs in each other’s nests for other mothers to hatch and raise. Populations were dropping in the late 19th century, but they made a comeback between 1966 and 2015.
The eggs are glossy creamy white to tan. They incubate for about a month before hatching alert chicks with full down coats. They jump right out of the nest just one day after hatching and head for the water, where they spend most of their time.
Although the males are known for their beautiful, distinctive markings, they are not so brightly bedecked all year round. They are at their best from autumn until early summer, which is breeding season. The colors attract mates.
By late summer, they are covered in gray feathers with blue markings on the wings and white markings on the face and neck. Their red eyes and bill give away their true identify.
As ducklings, they eat invertebrates and small fish. As they age, their diet changes to one more focused on seeds, nuts, and plant matter.
Although some wood ducks migrate, those in the Southeast and along the Pacific Coast stay put, so maybe Woodie has come to stay in his new home in Johnson Park, Marble Falls, Texas.