- In the early 1900s, the wood duck was near extinction. Today, populations are increasing or holding steady throughout their range.
- They perch on trees and nest in hollow spaces in trees called tree cavities – unlike most waterfowl that nest on the ground.
- They take very well to artificial nesting boxes placed in their wetland environment.
The Need for Management
At one point in the United States, the wood duck almost faced extinction. Increased destruction of hardwood forests and river wetlands, and unregulated hunting, caused the wood duck population to plummet. Unlike most waterfowl, wood ducks are often found perched in trees and require tree cavities to nest. This attribute makes them vulnerable when cover is lacking close to their wetland habitat.
Wood ducks, along with other species of birds in Michigan, have benefited from banding – the process of placing a small aluminum ring around a bird’s leg. The ring is used as an identifier, each bird getting a unique sequence of numbers. This practice allows biologists to monitor health trends in the population and their travel patterns. Thanks to wildlife management, the wood duck is considered a spectacular North American conservation success story. This was made possible through the sale of hunting licenses which provide the majority of the state’s funding for conservation and management activities.
Many efforts are dedicated to conserving wood duck habitat and increasing their population:
- Conservation of wooded wetlands in Michigan.
- Hunting regulations to maintain the population goals.
- Artificial nesting boxes placed in wetland habitats.