Wood Duck video transcript
Wood Duck are found over much of Australia and they are legal game in all states except Tasmania, where they're uncommon and protected.
Woodies are mainly grey-coloured birds and, like this pair, often poke about along the shore. This one is a male. They have brown heads, short necks and short bills. Females are similar but have two white stripes on the face. The underwing feathers of Wood Duck are almost entirely white, but the wing tips are dark. The breast is a mottled grey.
Males have a black belly and plain grey flanks. Females have a white belly and mottled grey flanks. The breast and underwing feathers are the same as on the male. The large white patch on the trailing edge of the upperwing has a dark bar across it and is quite unmistakable. Try to remember these features of Wood Duck: short head and neck, white underwing with a dark tip, a white patch on the upperwing with a dark bar across it.
In size and shape, you wouldn't confuse Wood Ducks with anything else. The male has a chocolate-coloured head with a small, goose-like bill and long legs. The female's head is paler, with whitish stripes which can be seen a long way off.
Wood Ducks live around dams and along timbered creeks. They do sometimes feed in shallow water but prefer to graze any green herbage which grows nearby. They are extremely wary birds and usually see you long before you've seen them. And they don't always fly off. Sometimes they'll just walk quietly away.
On the water, Wood Ducks float fairly high and the head seems fairly small for the size of its body. That's a Hardhead behind them. In the air, Wood Ducks show very prominent white patches on their black-tipped wings. The general impression is of a grey-coloured bird, pale underneath with large white patches on the rear edge of the upperwing. They often call in flight - a call that is very easy to remember.
The wings seem fairly broad and don't beat very fast. But what they lack in speed is made up for by their wariness. Along timbered creek beds, the white wing patches show up clearly against the trees. The black wingtips tell you that they're not Hardheads. In good light, you can sometimes see colour on the male's wing. The underwing doesn't always look as pale as this. It depends very much on the light conditions.
Despite their strong markings, Wood Duck are very difficult to see amongst the fallen timber. So with Wood Duck you should look for a goose-like bird with a long neck and small, dark head. The eye stripes on the female are easily visible.
A grey body with white underwings, black-tipped; in flight, these markings are very obvious. White underwing, white patches on the rear upperwing and black tips. You should really have little trouble remembering these features of Wood Duck.The next bird we are going to see also has white wing patches but in a quite different wing position to these Wood Duck.