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 pairs is recommended. They can breed their first Spring, however fertility is usually better their second.
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 February 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 ducklings eating.
Sprinkle foods on brooder floor and onto the ducklings themselves
Smear moistened food onto sides of brooder
Place food in small containers of water (we use pickle jar lids) mazuri will float
Put a duckling of another species (of about the same size) in with them. This duckling will help teach them to eat.
Feed live meal worms
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.
Wood Ducks for sale
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What does the term split to silver mean?
Split/Silver is a term commonly used to describe those birds that carry the genetics to produce some silver offspring, but are not silver themselves. Split/silver birds most often acquire 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. Percentages are approximate and may vary from your own breeding results..
Pair consisting of two silver birds- all silver offspring.
Pair consisting of 1 silver bird and 1 split/silver bird- about 50% silver offspring all of the remaining regular colored offspring will be split to silver.
Pair consisting of one silver bird and one reg bird (not split)- all offspring will be regular colored but all will carry the silver gene and will be split/silver.
Pair consisting of two split silver birds- about 20-25% silver offspring, of the remaining regular colored offspring about half will be split/silver and half will not carry the silver gene. It is important to note that there is no way of telling the splits from the regular birds in this mating and these offspring should not be sold as split birds as there is only a 50% chance that they will be carrying the silver gene. 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.
How we breed our color mutations
All color mutation were originally 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 original 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:
Infertility in males
Smaller clutch size
Weak ducklings , large % of hatch dies while hatching or soon after
Skeletal deformities, such as crooked legs or neck
Shorter lifespan for adult birds
At Mallard Lane Farms we are constantly working to improve the bloodlines of our color mutations, particularly in the white and the silver Wood Duck. We do not breed white on white or silver to silve