Did You Know These Colorful Tree-Dwelling Ducks Live in Colorado?
Hundreds of different types of wildlife call Colorado home. From the tiniest insects to massive mammals, like moose and elk, the animals living within the Centennial State are as diverse as can possibly be.
Although dozens of different kinds of ducks can be found in Colorado, one species stands out among the rest.
Wood ducks are beautiful species of waterfowl known for their vibrant and multi-colored plumage. These dabbling ducks can have feathers ranging in color from green, red, orange, lime, yellow, rose, brown, tan, black, white, gray, purple, and blue.
The males' intricate plumage can be identified by their green crested heads, red eyes, and chestnut breasts with white specks. However, the males do not have all of these decorative markings during all months of the year. They use their colorful markings to attract females during the breeding season, which lasts from autumn until the early summer.
Female wood ducks have brown bodies with grayish heads, that are also slightly crested. Another noticeable feature of the female ducks is a white teardrop eye patch and a blue patch on the wing.
Wood ducks are about 19 inches in length and have a wingspan of about 28 to 39 inches.
In the summer, wood ducks can be seen in every state east of the Rocky Mountains, but prefer areas that have a mix of water habitats and forests. That explains why Colorado makes for such a great place for these brightly-colored birds to live all year round.
Besides their unique and colorful appearance, something else that's interesting about these feathered creatures is that they are one of the few duck species in Colorado that can be seen in trees. Wood Ducks use abandoned tree cavities for nesting, and also readily take to elevated nesting boxes.
Coloradans may see wood ducks nesting in trees between March and June. According to CPW, they tend to inhabit older trees that have lost their branches, because it makes for ideal cavities.
They typically lay around 10 to 15 eggs. The young ducks are tended to by the females for approximately five weeks. Ducklings become capable of flight at about eight or nine weeks old.
Recently, hikers have spotted wood ducks in Waterton Canyon, near Denver. Several have also been seen in Gunnison and in Jefferson County within the last week. Wood ducks have been observed at the Environmental Learning Center in Fort Collins too.