This picture was taken in late August several years ago and shows the male wood duck, Aix sponsa. This bird is exhibiting his nonbreeding season or eclipse plumage. The intensely colorful
head of the breeding season male has become more subdued and resembles the female wood duck in coloration. The white patches on this individual’s cheek and throat as well as the white and reddish colors on his bill mark this duck as a male.
These ducks nest in tree cavities and prefer wooded habitats near water. In Texas, these guys can be seen as migratory birds in wetlands throughout the state and some can be found as residents in east Texas. They occur throughout most of North America and they like to winter in Mexico and Cuba.
The above picture shows a male Wood Duck in breeding plumage. It was a long-shot on a cloudy day so it doesn’t do justice to the dark, iridescent blue- green crest that makes the helmet like shape of the head. You also get a faint indication of the ruby red eyes that contrast strikingly with the darkly iridescent feathers on the face, cheek and crown of the head. Also, note the distinct white patch on the upper surface of the bill which has faded to nearly imperceptible on the eclipse individual. Finally, you can see that the white accent stripes are gone along the sides and rump. In either phase, Wood Ducks are flamboyantly feathered because of their iridescence and are easily distinguished from other ducks.