Meet Our Species of the Month: the Wood Duck!

This blog series on Canadian wildlife explores key facts, threats and what WWF is doing to conserve these species. These Canadian species are also featured in the TELUS 2014 calendar. Check out the digital calendar and you can follow along with fun activities, download beautiful desktop wallpapers, colouring pages and more.
The wood duck, Aix sponsa, is considered one of the most colourful and striking waterfowl in Canada. Its stunning plumage makes it relatively easy to spot in its wetland habitat of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Males weigh on average about 680 g and females weigh about 460 g; a typical adult wood duck has a wingspan of approximately 70 cm. The wood duck is one of a handful of duck species with strong sharp claws to perch on branches and nest in tree cavities. Their diet is made up of primarily plant foods such as fruits, seeds and aquatic grasses but does include insects.

wood duck
Wood duck (Aix sponsa), Canada © Frank PARHIZGAR / WWF-Canada

Did you know?
The male wood duck makes two distinct sounds: a booming whoo-eek and an inflected jeee. The female call is crrek crrek.
The wood duck’s scientific name, Aix sponsa, means “water bird in bridal dress”.
Wood duck © Frank PARHIZGAR / WWF-Canada
Wood duck © Frank PARHIZGAR / WWF-Canada

Why is the wood duck at risk?
This species saw a dramatic decline in population in the late 19th century due to severe habitat loss, its status as a popular game duck for hunting and the use of its plumage for hats in Europe. A Migratory Birds Convention was established in 1916, which prohibited any hunting of the wood duck and helped the population recover. While the wood duck rebounded over the 20th century, this species is still the second most commonly hunted duck in North America, second only to the mallard. Overall, wood duck populations are limited by the accessibility and quality of their habitat.
White-winged wood duck © David Lawson / WWF-UK
White-winged wood duck © David Lawson / WWF-UK

What is WWF doing?
WWF is working with Canadian universities, government agencies and local groups to improve freshwater health across the country. In particular, our Freshwater Health Assessment is taking a deeper look at the state of our rivers, lakes and streams based on four core metrics: water quality, water flow, fish, and bugs.
WWF is also working in partnership with Vancouver Aquarium on the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited. Tens of thousands of Canadians take part in this community cleanup each year to help remove harmful debris to ensure healthy shorelines for nature, wildlife and people. Sign up for a spring cleanup today at!
WWF-Canada and TELUS are partnering to support the conservation of Canadian wildlife and their habitats through a new $1 million, four-year partnership. Visit to learn more.