A Three-Year Study of the Fall Migration and Roosting-Flight Habits of the Wood Duck in East-Central North Carolina

Late afternoon counts of wood ducks (Aix sponsa) , as they came to roost in woodland ponds, were made in the fall and early winter months of 1953, 1954, and 1960, near Wendell, North Carolina. The numbers of wood ducks which came to roost increased rapidly during October of each year and peak numbers generally were recorded during late October and very early November, in correlation with the regular fall migration of these birds to and through the state from more northern areas. The roosting populations decreased during November and December and few wood ducks remained in the region during the winter months. Most flights consisted of small numbers of ducks. Flocks of two birds were most common and comprised 35.5% of all 814 flocks observed. Only 55 a few flocks contained more than 12 birds. As the season advanced, flocks of two birds became proportionately more abundant (October, 34%; November, 36%; December, 43%; and January, 47%) possibly indicating pairing by this time. By late February some nesting had begun. Roosting flights on clear days began about 8 minutes after sunset in mid-October and continued over a period of approximately 20 minutes. Regression lines were calculated which showed that afternoon flights began progressively later (1.9 minutes for each 10 days) as the season advanced from mid-October to early January. The times of the median and final flights showed a similar decrease (1.5 and 1.4 minutes for each 10 days, respectively) which nearly paralleled that of beginning flights. There was evidence that the afternoon flights began earlier on stormy days.

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