American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 13

WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa). Nearly everyone is agreed that Wood Ducks are the most beautiful of any species found in this or any other country. The exquisitely colored and crested head, the iridescent glossy back and the delicately marked flanks combine to produce an effect that cannot be surpassed. Even the female is more beautiful than that of other species.

     Beauty proves fatal to them, however, for they are hunted, not only for sport and food, but for their feathers, some of which are used in fly-tying. Wood Ducks are oft-times called "Summer Ducks" because they are a warm-weather species and sometimes termed "Bridal Ducks" because of their beauty which is associated with bridal robes.

     They frequent wooded lakes or creeks, where they occasionally perch in the trees, but more often are found along the shores or floating among the grasses of lagoons. Their note, which is sometimes uttered as they take wing, is a single sharply whistled "oeeck." They are of local occurrence and breed throughout the United States and southern Canada, but they are yearly becoming more scarce in all portions of their range. Their nests are in the cavities of trees, but not necessarily near the water's edge. The ducklings either flutter down the tree trunk or are carried to the ground in the bill of the mother.


REDHEAD (Marila americana). This name is so appropriate that it is known by few others, one of which is "American Pochard." Redheads bear superficial resemblance to Canvasbacks and the two are sometimes confused by novices; the differences are apparent from the pictures, and are pointed out in the next description. Redheads breed in central and western United States and Canada and are abundant on the South Atlantic coast during migrations and in winter. They are classed as one of the sea ducks, because they are able to dive to great depths, but are found equally common on fresh water. Their flesh is excellent after suitable feeding.