Aix Sponsa or the Wood Duck is said to be one of the most beautiful breed of ducks in North America. Just is name, Aix Sponsa, means "The Water Bride." Ever since the first American settlers arrived in the eastern shores of North America people have been mesmerized by the beauty of this colorful animal. But instead of just standing there and marveling at it they hunted and used the Wood Duck as means for survival. This made the Wood Duck one of the most popular games ducks in North America. And by the turn of the 19 th Century it was on the brink of extinction. And from 1918 to 1941 a ban was put on hunting the Wood Duck which allowed its population to climb out of any worries of extinction.

And today the Wood Duck still has a high population due to conservation and regulations placed on it. The Wood Duck itself is an amazingly colorful breed of duck ranging in many colors. The amazing thing about this breed is that the males and females differ drastically from their appearance. The males are more brightly colored with a dark body with bright red all over.

Whereas the female is more plainer with more gray and blue. You can always tell if it s female and more importantly a female Wood Duck by seeing a distinct white ring around the eyes. When both male and females are in full wing spread the outer parts show as if there is an aluminum coloring which only occurs with the Wood Duck. On average the wood duck is an average size duck. Males, when fully grown, on average weigh about 680 g. And females average about only 460 g.

Naturalists have be able to state that the Wood Duck's closet relative is the Mandarin Duck of eastern Asia. They share colors and features only distinct to there breeds. The Wood Duck is a North American and North American only species. It lives, breeds, and winters in North America. They mostly range from the eastern United States to the southern parts of Canada. There is also trace in some parts northwestern United States.

And in one instance the Wood Duck as been found in parts of Newfoundland. When winter comes the northern duck will come down to the southeastern United States where it will spend most of the winter until it then migrates back to the north. It is after the wintering time that they begin to start breeding. When they arrive back they seek out secluded swamps or other habitats and begin mating. And the female can lay up to 15 dull white eggs which it will nest the eggs in the habitat until they hatch. Then the ducklings are fed for by the female and the female would leas them to the nearest source of food and water.

And usually eight weeks later the female will let the ducklings go free. The Wood duck is a herbivore mainly eating plants, and small vegetation. Which can included duckweed's, grasses, acorns, and stuff like that. Though the duckling when first born needs to eat a good amount of protein. So they will typically eat bugs in order to get that protein. Which makes it important for the habitat to be in an area with abundant resources of both plant and bug life.

One of the most unique characteristics of the Wood Duck is that because of dwindling habitat area that they are forced to eat in small groups of ducks. This is a trait that is becoming more and more common with duck as well as other birds and habitat animals. Typically the Wood Duck has its nests inside hollowed out trees or in small swamp brush. The wood duck is labeled as a "perching duck" which means they primarily feeds on the surface. This allows it to nest in high places like a hollowed hole in tree or a man made nest that can rise as mush as 12 feet in height.

Today, the Wood Duck population is in the millions. And with conservation efforts, that keep its habitats, though few, in tact, the Wood Duck is not going to be on the endangered specie list anytime soon. The efforts of the Canadian Wildlife Service had instituted many measures to ensure the population. They has brought a box nest program that allows for anyone who lives near or in a possible or known Wood Duck habitat to build nests for the to live in. Sticking to strict guidelines the nests have to have a certain dimension and have certain precautions taking to prevent from predators and others threatening aspect for the duck. This along with hunting restrictions that only allow a certain period of time for the hunting of the Wood Duck is helping the population to maintain this healthy level.

The Wood Duck is one of the most beautiful animals that you would ever come across. And if it weren't for the efforts of decades of work. You would of never been able to enjoy its beauty. And the odds are, if you live in New Jersey you have seen one if not may before. Its important to recognize how important the Wood Duck is to the environment and how by keeping it around is a much needed necessity.

Works Cited 1. Hinterland Who's Who. 2005. Hinterland Who's Who- Wood Duck.

Canadian Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Foundation. web 2. The Birdhouse Network. 2001. The Wood Duck. Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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