In North America there is really only one duck that could even come close to competing with the Wood Duck for the title of most fair, and the Harlequin Duck is just too much of a trollop to really compete.  Wood Ducks are essentially in a class of their own and seeing a drake in good plumage is usually the highlight of any birding outing.  When I heard that a pair of drakes were wintering in the pond at the south end of New York City’s Central Park and were rather confiding, well, how could I resist a visit?  And, as it turns out, confiding doesn’t quite express how willing to approach people these ducks are.  Friendly might be a better word, though, considering the amount of people feeding both the Wood Ducks and the Mallards, greedy might be the more accurate adjective.  It was great to have a chance to study Aix sponsa at close range and fascinating to hear their high-pitched vocalizations amid the quacks of the Mallards.

If you have the time and the inclination, you can currently find these Wood Ducks in the pond at the southeast corner of Central Park, in the only open water in the pond, by the bridge.  Or you can just admire the shots I got, some of which can be clicked for larger versions.

This post has been submitted to Bird Photography Weekly #129.  Go check it out!

This post was originally published on 11 February 2011, but we hate to keep posts this good buried in the archives!

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.