A Wood Duck Full of Color

Every birder has what is known as a nemesis bird. Mine was the wood duck. Try as I might, every time I would try to find a wood duck, I came up empty handed. I’d even get messages from a friend and be there 20 minutes later and no duck.

But it didn’t stop me from trying again and again. Patience and perseverance finally paid off. Actually, the only way I was able to shake the curse of the wood duck was to go and visit one that was practically tame. Once I finally set my eyes on this stunning duck, I began seeing them all over the place.

This time though, it was a trip to visit the Super 8 Ducks. Like a super hero, two wood ducks have found a safe haven in a little pond in front of the Super 8 Motel in Joppa, Maryland.

When I drove up to the small pond, the ducks rushed to the pond’s edge and up to the car, thinking some food would be had. They got so close in fact, I could hardly fit a wood duck into my 500mm view.


Since I had rushed out of the house and forgot to bring some corn, I ran up to a jiffy-mart and brought back some popcorn. Getting out of the car, the ducks quickly dashed to the further side of the pond. Not discouraged, I set up my camera and tripod and sat in my little chair waiting for their return. Waited..and waited. You meet the Coot yesterday. He was the only brave one.

While one of the wood ducks slept amongst his mallard friends, the other swam about. I watched him walk through the Canada geese and just randomly harass one. Pecking at him while walking by. A little colorful bully was he. And the geese weren’t the only one he harassed.



After a couple of hours, the cold was starting to set in. Getting back into my car, I went to the other side of the pond and was able to get some lovely captures of this colorful bird.

Wood ducks are perhaps one of my most favorite ducks, as in nature they can be so elusive. But when you finally get to set your eyes on them, their stunning beauty is well worth the search.

Yet another duck with beady red eyes, which I really don’t quite understand. My hunter friend swears they are great eating, but I’ll never let him know where I find one. These ducks live their lives fast and furious. Nesting in trees and wood boxes, they rarely pass their fourth birthday in the wild. Bring them into captivity, they can live until their teens. Clearly a predator favorite in the wild.

It’s no wonder they’re shy with strangers, but yet assertive among their feathered friends.

34 replies »

  1. My feelings are the same. I have yet to get a good photo of a Wood Duck. Actually, I have only seen one once, and the photo I got was trashy. I get reports that they are around here, but they remain elusive, at least to me. 🙂

  2. Great shots, Emily. I’ve never seen a wood duck interact with other birds and it’s fascinating to how unintimidated they are by the larger birds. I’ve managed to get some shots of wood ducks, but have never been able to approach them like you did. It’s nice to see that your patience and perseverance were finally rewarded.

  3. They are beautiful indeed and well worth waiting for! I am glad you got one in the end, even if it turned out to be a bully. Just thinking, maybe that’s why you don’t see many of them, perhaps they’re not welcome!

    • LOL ! Bully..standing his ground? Who knows. Looks like he enjoyed pecking on his friends. Perhaps you’ve got something there. What’s interesting is that when I see the girls, the boys are never with them. Hummm…..

  4. If you will it, it will come 🙂 I feel like this blog is one of those identification books you take on a hike. I can fire up my phone and identify these birds and stop saying “Oh that’s a pretty bird” lol Gorgeous pics and educational! Thanks Emily!

  5. I love this post! Wood ducks are fascinating creatures, not that I’ve seen a lot of them but they’re so beautiful it’s almost hard to believe their ducks. Seriously I can’t stop looking at your pics of him. The color you’ve captured here is gorgeous. Like you said, superheroes, it seems like they just flew down outta space with their fancy gear and are just struttin their stuff. The pic with the Mallard is pretty priceless too. I love its expression, seems to say, “Are you kidding me? Honey, is he kidding? Do you see how much bigger I am?” What a sassy little handsome devil he is.

    I saw a mother and her ducklings in my neighborhood coming back from a run. It confused the daylight outta me and I worried because I thought they were lost. Plus there was a car coming up behind me, which I stopped to make sure the ducks were okay. It wasn’t until I realized they were Wood ducks that it almost all made sense; I was still shocked to see them in the neighborhood as I understood them to be rather shy and private creatures.

    Thanks so much for sharing. His colors spark the imagination. 😉

    • LOL ! Boy you really made me laugh with the duck impression. Really he was looking at the wood duck like “Really?” I’m thrilled that you’ve been able to see wood ducks also. I think they really are super cool. Mom’s tend to be a little braver with their kids. Although they are really great at making a ruckus to try to distract you from their babies.

      • Ha! I’m laughing again just picturing it in my mind. That was a funny pic for sure. I may have missed the shot laughing.

        I really want to see the males closer up but for now I’m so grateful you enable me to see them without having to search for them. I feel like I’ve heard them more than I’ve seen them.

        I do believe they have a fit. I remember as a girl – sounds horrid now – we’d try to catch ducklings and the momma would dive bomb us. Let me specify, a female mallard would dive bomb us. It was really quite scary. Never tried with the swans. 😉 (Really that’s terrible, can’t tell you the things I’d say to a kid if I saw them doing that now.)

        • Aren’t you glad you didn’t try to pick up the baby swans? you probably wouldn’t have been here to tell the tale. You really do make me laugh, and you truly are a hellion on wheels. Bet your mom got lots of white hair with all of your antics. My mother would always say that I was two steps ahead of her. I also got into trouble a lot when I was a kid. Messing around in the great outdoors. See? I loved it even then. Didn’t have barbies. Had Breyer horses instead.

          My not happy baby duck story is that I had one and wanted to sleep with it. Rolled over in my sleep..and well, squished it.

        • I am SOOOO glad I never tried to pick up baby swans, lord… Yeah I was a bit of a trouble maker but I think I often paled in comparison to my little brother. I bet you were a little explorer, which isn’t always a good thing when you’re a kid, especially if you have such access to the outdoors like it seems you and I did.

          I had Breyer horses too!!!!!!!!! I wasn’t exactly allowed to have Barbies though i got a few stray ones as gifts here and there. My main fav was My Little Ponies. Back in the day they were more plump than the newer versions but I’m glad they brought them back. I still have some of my Breyers. 😀 My niece plays with them and I always tell her to be careful, actually I’ve started thinking maybe she shouldn’t play with all of them…lol.

          Oooo, that’s not a cool experience for a little girl. I bet you were pretty heartbroken. I always tried hatching bird eggs, especially when we took them out of the chicken nests at my aunt’s. I never did succeed. Probably better I didn’t…lol

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