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Drake wood duck (Aix sponsa)—Grant Heilman
North American duck (Aix sponsa, family Anatidae); a popular game bird. Wood ducks, 17–21 in. (43–52 cm) long, nest in a tree cavity up to 50 ft (15 m) off the ground; they have long-clawed toes for perching. Both sexes have a head crest in winter. The beautifully coloured male has a purple and green head, red-brown breast flecked with white, and bronze sides; the female has a white eye ring and duller colouring. Ducklings eat aquatic insects and other small organisms; adults prefer acorns or other nuts. Hunted nearly to extinction for its flesh and feathers, it has been restored to healthy populations by strong conservation efforts.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on wood duck, visit Britannica.com.