|SREL Reprint #0515|
Feeding Ecology of Wood Ducks in South Carolina
Larry Landers, Timothy T. Fendley, and A. Sydney Johnson
Wood ducks (Aix sponsa) were studied
from August 1973 to August 1975 at the Savannah River Plant of the U.S. Energy
Research and Development Administration in South Carolina. Two hundred feeding wood ducks were collected for study of
food habits and nutrition in relation to foraging habitat use.
Animal matter in the diet of females increased markedly during the
breeding season and was greater (P<0.05) than for males.
Dietary protein and ash peaked during egg-laying but decreased sharply in
May when nitrogen-free extract was lowest of any month and crude fiber was
highest; low weights of ducks also indicated a lean period.
Percent dietary protein and fat, and weights of ducks were higher during
fall of 1973 when there was a good must crop than during 1974 when a mast
failure occurred. Females fed on
invertebrates in shallow, open water in spring. Both sexes used deeper water areas for feeding on succulent
vegetation during early summer and concentrated in Carolina bays to feed on
seeds of pad plants in late summer and early fall. As fall progressed, foraging shifted seasonally flooded
SREL Reprint #0515
Landers, J.L., T.T. Fendley, and A.S. Johnson. 1977.
Feeding ecology of wood ducks in South Carolina. Journal of
Wildlife Management 41:118-127.