The Wood Duck is well known in aviculture, it is considered by many to be North America's most ornamental and most colorful duck. The Wood Duck and it's close relative the Mandarin are often the first ducks a beginner obtains. They are extremely hardy, easy to care for, and will get along well with others in a mixed collection.
Wood Ducks are cavity nesters and will require a raised box for nesting. A ratio of three boxes for every two nesting paisr is recommended. They can breed their first Spring, however fertility is usually better their second year. While their cousin, the Mandarin will commonly trio, I myself have had no success at breeding Wood Ducks in trio's. The breeding season is in Spring, and begins in March in my region, however I have collected eggs as early as Feburary and once in December. Clutches range from 10-16 eggs and are incubated for 28 to 30 days. If the eggs are removed early in incubation the hen will often produce a second clutch. Second clutches will normally consist of less eggs than the first.
While most experienced waterfowl aviculturist find wood duck ducklings fairly easy to raise, many people attempting it for the first time find them quite challenging. For the beginner excessive losses of ducklings at about 4-6 days of age is common, and usually results from the fact that they did not settle down enough to begin eating, or did not like the food or the way it was presented. At Mallard Lane Farms we start our Wood Ducks on Mazuri Waterfowl Starter. Listed below are a few tips that we commonly use to get these duckilings eating.
Wood ducks are available in several different color mutations which include the apricot Wood Duck, white wood duck, and the very beautiful silver Wood Duck and the rare platinum wood duck, all are currently bred in the US.
Split/Silver is a term commonly used to describe thoses birds that carry the genetics to produce some silver offspring, but are not silver themselves. Split/silver birds most often aquire these genetics by having one parent that is silver. Listed below are breeding results that I have recorded for some of the silver and split silver pairs listed above. Percetanges are approximent and may vary from your own breeding results.
For information on the genetics of the white and or apricot color mutations please refer to the information listed for those colors on the Mandarin page as these colors work the same in both species.
All color mutation were orginally created through excessive inbreeding, thus making a beautiful bird but one that is sometimes genetically inferior to it's original form. Thus breeding in sound specimens of the orginal color is important to help improve the color mutation bloodline. In well established more common mutations this may not be necessary, an example would be the apricot Wood Duck. Since this color has been around for many years and is well established, apricots do not normally possess some of the inbreed traits that other colors often do. Some of these traits include but are not limited to:
At Mallard Lane Farms we are constantly working to improve the bloodlines of our color mutations, particarly in the white and the silver Wood Duck. We do not breed white on white or silver to silver to produce our whites and silvers. At this time, all of our birds, of these colors that we sell, are out of split pairs or pairs possessing one color mutated bird and one split bird.
We also take great care in knowing what offspring comes from which birds. Breeding pens are set up so their will be no question as to what color bird layed which particular egg. These birds will nest dump, just because the hen is sitting on that egg does not mean that she layed it; and just because a pair seems bonded, doesn't mean they may not fool around with someone else. An example of one of our breeding pens would be to run several regular or split drakes over all silver hens, we will have no other wood ducks in the pen except these pairs, so we will know for sure that all offspring from that pen have silver mothers. Making all of the regular colored offspring from that pen legitiment split/silver birds. If eggs are collected for the incubator, they are carefully marked and hatched separated from any other wood ducks that might be hatching at the time. Split ducklings are permanently marked as soon as they hatch (we double toe clip for split/silver).
The bird pictured here was hatched at Mallard Lane Farms, in 08, she is the offspring of a split/silver hen and a silver drake. She is much lighter colored than a normal silver, almost white, but does not have the pink bill or eyes that a white hen would have. The bill and legs are more the color of apricots. This bird hatched out yellow as whites do, not gray like silvers. I do not have much information about this color at this time, and I am hoping to learn more about it in the 09 breeding season. One interesting fact is that there is no record of any drakes with this coloration, all platinum birds to date have been female.
The picture below contains wood duck ducklings of several different colors (and 1 call duckling, right corner). There is 1 apricot, 3 silver, 2 regular colored, and 1 platinum (middle back)
Another picture platinum front left, silver middle back, white right.
Picture of silver and platinum males
Picture of platinum and white, notice the white has an overall buff shading, while this is gray-blue on the platinum