South Carolina State Duck

Wood Duck

State Symbol: South Carolina State Duck - Wood Duck or Carolina Duck

(Aix sponsa)

Adopted on June 3, 2009

The Wood Duck, (Aix sponsa,) was designated South Carolina official State Duck by Act Number 58 of 2009. The Wood Duck is often considered the most beautiful duck in North America due to its striking coloring. The Wood Duck is a medium size duck ranging from 17 to 20 inches and weighing 1.5 pounds. Their feet are webbed but also have sharp claws to allow for perching on trees. They tend to habitat in woodland ponds, lakes, swamps and marshes feeding on the vegetation and insects.

South Carolina State Duck: Wood Duck

State Symbol: South Carolina State Duck - Wood Duck or Carolina Duck

The wood duck or Carolina duck (Aix sponsa) is a species of perching duck found in North America. It is one of the most colorful North American waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins.

Characteristics of the Wood Duck

The Wood Ducks or Carolina Ducks are small to medium sized birds. Both male and female adults have a crest on their head, a rectangular shaped tail, white bellies and white lines on the back of the wings. Males are 48 to 54 cm long, while females are 47 to 51 cm long. Their wingspans are 70 to 73 cm long and they weigh between 500 and 700 g. The sexes are dimorphic. The males' heads are iridescent green, blue and purple and have two white lines that are parallel and run from the base of the bill and behind the eye to the back of the head. Male wood ducks also have red eyes, red at the base of the bill, rust-colored chests, bronze sides and black backs and tails. The females are brownish to gray and have white eye rings, white throats and gray chests. Juvenile wood ducks resemble adult females. Wood ducks are sometimes mistaken for American widgeons (Anas americana) when flying because the white lines that wood ducks have at the back of their wings are not visible. Also female wood ducks are mistaken for female Mandarin ducks (Aix galericulata). The difference lies in the Mandarin duck's lighter gray head and less distinctive eye patch.


Wood ducks occupy a wide variety of habitats including woodland areas along lakes, rivers, creeks, beaver and farm ponds and various other freshwater vegetated wetland areas. Because wood ducks are cavity nesters, the availability of nesting sites within one mile of water is necessary. Winter habitats are the same as those used during breeding.


The average lifespan of A. sponsa is three or four years. The maximum recorded lifespan in the wild is roughly 15 years. Within the first two weeks after hatching 86 to 90% of the chicks die. One cause of mortality is predation. Hunting also accounts for some mortality, however, hunting pressures are not enough to endanger the species.

South Carolina Law

The law designating the wood duck as South Carolina official state duck is Section SECTION 1-1-711 (Official state duck) of the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 1 (Administration of the Government) Chapter 1 (GENERAL PROVISIONS) Article 9 (STATE EMBLEMS, PLEDGE TO STATE FLAG, OFFICIAL OBSERVANCES) Section 1-1-711.

Title 1 - Administration of the Government
SECTION 1-1-711.

SECTION 1-1-711. Official state duck.
The "wood duck" (Aix sponsa) also known as the summer duck and the Carolina duck is designated as the official state duck.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Wood Duck

Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
    Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates
Class: Aves - birds
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Aix
Species: Aix sponsa

Official State Birds
US map : Birds & Flowers
State Bird:Bird selected (by the legislature) as an emblem of a State.