My daughter and I were driving past a pair of small ponds when I spotted this amazing duck out of the corner of my eye. We immediately pulled over and started creeping toward it. This duck was not feeling photogenic, and it flew between the two ponds a twice before we finally annoyed it enough that it flew off to swim in the nearby creek.
Unlike mallards, which are content to nest in flower beds in busy parks in DC, wood ducks are shy, and prefer to stick to more traditionally duckish places.
The Wood Duck is one of the most stunningly pretty of all waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.
There was a nest box right by the ponds, so I may try to get a better shot someday. I think my best bet is to take the duck hunter approach of sitting quietly and waiting.
I also posted a version of this on Instagram.