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Wood Duck with Non-Mating Plumage

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Hello all.  I checked all my reference material and could not find anything that matched this bird, Nothing that even came close.  Then I saw some pics on the net of a male wood duck without mating plumage. It was a really close match. Also, the white pattern around its neck was a pattern that I only saw with Wood Ducks.

 

Any ideas?

Photo Taken: Northern Illinois.  Mid-August.

wood duck 1 - possible.jpg

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Awesome!  Thanks all. Can't wait for next spring to see the male's mating plumage!

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Actually, male Wood Ducks molt into their breeding plumage around now.  They should be in full breeding plumage in September.  Many but not all species of ducks have similar molt timing.

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Thank you Jerry, for the valuable information.  I have many questions now 🙂

I checked the migratory and breeding patterns for the Wood Duck, but I'm a bit confused. It seems to me like the Wood Duck stays in northern Illinois year round.  Does this still mean that the male will begin to molt into breeding plumage, just in time for Winter?  Or does this only apply for those that are in warmer, more southerly states?  In northern Illinois, when should I expect mating plumage?  Still starting around September?  Or will they migrate from here by then? DO they even migrate from an area like mine?  Lastly, if they do mate and raise young in this area, I will be putting out duck houses for them in the next few months, well before spring. But I will not do that, of course, if there is no hope for a brood.  

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.  

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I can't answer most of your questions regarding Woodies' migration habits, but I will offer a few other hints.

The maps show Woodies in northern IL all year, but there will be more of them during breeding season than not.  Many of the birds that bred there may migrate out, and few that bred further north may stop in.  Those that do winter over in the area won't have flightless ducklings tying them to one body of water, so they're freer to move around.  Smaller ponds where they bred may be abandoned when they freeze over for the season in favor of larger bodies or swifter currents where the water stays open.

As to the boxes, I'd try one or two at first.  If you get broods from those, you can always add more.

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We don't get very many Wood Ducks around here in the winter (I'm in Zion). If you visit enough suburban dams and city park ponds you'll eventually find them, but they are definitely easier to see right now. As far as the molting, yes, most ducks molt into their breeding plumage right about now, and they'll hold it into July of next year! In some ducks, they actually pair up before spring migration, so this is actually a good time to do so. They definitely do nest around here, although I think it's pretty local. Nothing wrong with trying a few boxes, though.

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22 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

 Those that do winter over in the area won't have flightless ducklings tying them to one body of water, so they're freer to move around.

That's true for females, but males are free anyway--they don't help with the young.  And even females with flightless ducklings are surprisingly mobile.  They typically nest over a kilometer from the bodies of water where they raise their young.  The longest move mentioned in Birds of North American Online (subscription required) was 9.2 km within two days of nesting for a female and young in S. Dakota.  The two or three times I've seen woodlings (I just made that up), they left the pond they were in, and I couldn't find them again.

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The youngster's lack of flight sometimes causes problems (at least with Mallards and Blue-winged Teal). In order to keep from attracting predators, the female won't fly either -- even when she hits a fence that the youngsters can just walk right through.

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