The extensive wetlands at L. Kirk Edwards attract a
variety of wading birds and waterfowl. The artificially stabilized
water levels attract the largest colony of endangered wood storks
in north Florida.
Wood ducks, anhingas, great blue and green herons
and a variety of other wading birds nest and raise their young
here. Frogs bellow and Eastern kingbirds, red-winged blackbirds and
boat-tailed grackles noisily stake out breeding territories. Watch
for iridescent purple gallinules as they skate from lily pad to
lily pad and the many pairs of osprey that nest and fish on the
Lafayette chain of lakes. Wood ducks, American coots and common
moorhen are year round residents and are joined in the fall and
winter by blue- and green-winged teal and ring-necked ducks.
Wildlife Spotlight: Wood Duck
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Many people consider the wood duck to be the most
beautiful of all waterfowl. The species is also a popular game
bird, second only to the mallard. Florida is fortunate to have both
year-round residents and an influx of northern migrants in the
Wood ducks are small to medium sized ducks with
crested heads. Breeding males have brilliant colors - bright red,
black and white patterned bills - and iridescent green and purple
plumage, set off with white streaks. Females are brownish gray with
a metallic sheen.
Wood ducks breed throughout the eastern half of the
United States, from southern Canada to Cuba, along the west coast
from British Columbia to southern California, and in scattered
inland locations. Winters are spent in the southern part of the
breeding range. This species is found throughout Florida, except in
the Keys, the sawgrass marshes of the Everglades and agricultural
areas near Lake Okeechobee.
The wood duck spends most of its time in forested
wetlands along rivers, swamps, marshes, ponds and lakes. Its diet
consists mainly of aquatic plants, seeds, fruits and acorns.
Dragonflies, beetles and other insects are also sometimes eaten;
they provide an important source of protein for breeding females
and their young.
Most nesting occurs from March to June. Wood ducks
search for cavities in tree trunks or large limbs, usually near the
water. The female lines the cavity with down and lays 6-15 eggs.
Chicks are far from helpless when they hatch. They are covered in
down and can walk, hop, climb and swim. About one day after the
eggs hatch, the female leaves the nest and coaxes the hatchlings to
follow. They climb to the edge of the cavity and jump to the ground
or water. They'll be able to fly when they are 8 - 10 weeks
In the early 1900s, the population of wood ducks
declined drastically due to over-hunting and the clearing and
draining of forested wetlands. A combination of hunting
restrictions and habitat conservation and management measures
allowed the species to make a comeback. Today, the wood duck is the
most widespread breeding waterfowl in Florida and, by far, the most