On the reedy pond of a pumping station in southern Brandenburg, mist clouds rise above the water in the early autumn morning. A quick visit shows a surprise. It is a pair of Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) sitting on the rusty railing of a staircase. The male is in full breeding plumage. This was the first record of a pair for the Nuthe-Nieplitz-Niederung for me.
The primary breeding habitats of Wood Ducks are wooded sections of slow-flowing rivers and their oxbow lakes, as well as marshy lowlands interspersed with old trees. During the ice-free months, the Wood Ducks living in Europe mostly inhabit water bodies in urban settlement areas, especially tree-lined park ponds and/or those with half-tame water fowl.
The Wood Duck has been kept in German zoos and private facilities since the middle of the 19th century and is often bred in captivity. Observation reports show a focus in urban settlement areas or even in the middle of big cities. The focus seems to be more in the west of Germany. There were targeted settlements more than 100 years ago, in e.g. the Berlin Zoo. The pairs multiplied initially, but went out with the ceasing of additional feeding. Because of numerous breeding in captivity and mostly good reproduction rates, there are regularly field observations of individuals. The Wood Duck, however, is (still?) a non-established neozoon. One of the causes is said to be the high predation of the raccoon, which is actually quite common in the area.
With little or no inclination of local birds to migrate, it can be assumed that the same individuals stay in the territory throughout Continue reading Wood Ducks on small pond in Brandenburg