Wood Duck

Wood Duck


metal engraving/etching
By J. J. Audubon.

text from the plate

Summer or Wood Duck.

Anas sponsa


"I never knew one of these birds to form a nest on the ground, or on the branches of a tree. They appear at all times to prefer the hollow broken portion of some large branch, the hole of our largest woodpecker ... or the deserted retreat of the fox-squirrel; and I have frequently been surprised to see them go in and out of a hole of any one of these, when their bodies while on wing seemed to be nearly half as large again as the aperture within which they had deposited their eggs. ... If the nest is placed immediately over the water, the young, the moment they are hatched, scramble to the mouth of the hole, launch into the air with their little wings and feet spread out, and drop into their favorite element; but wherever their birth-place is at some distance from it, the mother carries them to it one by one in her bill, holding them so as not to injure their yet tender frame. On several occasions, however, when the hole was thirty, forty, or more yards from a bayou or other piece of water, I observed that the mother suffered the young to fall on the grasses and dried leaves beneath the tree, and afterwards led them directly to the nearest edge of the next pool or creek."