Woo-eek, Woo-eek! This shrill cry is often all we hear or see of the Wood Duck. The male, with its iridescent purplish-blue, green, red and yellow, is our most colorful duck. The author of one field guide even throws up his hands and says, "Descriptive words fail." However, this duck is more difficult to observe than many other ducks because it is wary. Perhaps it has to be because it is a small duck.
Hiking along a lake in Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Judi and I stirred up a small flock of these ducks, and they took cover in the safety of a large area of weeds and rushes at one end of the lake. After hiding behind some brush and parking my camera with a view to a small open area of water at the edge of the weeds, I waited. After fifteen minutes or so, a single male glided out, and after another ten minutes, a male and female. A small group including a male and female and young ones and then another pair appeared later. I began to be able to almost predict their appearance because I would hear the familiar woo-eek!, and after about three minutes they would silently appear. The female was probably giving the signal that it was safe to come out from hiding.
Copyright ©1996 Judi Schiller, Richard Schiller
December 24, 1996