Mr Wood Duck
An original painting – watercolour with ink on paper – size 300mm x 300mm. Price includes P&P to UK addresses.
About the wood duck
The wood duck (Aix sponsa) is so gorgeous! They’re also known as Carolina ducks. This is a watercolour painting of a fine male showing his spectacular plumage. Look at those feathers!
They’re found in North America and have sharp claws for perching in trees, where they nest in holes and hollows. They often choose to nest above water, and you may have seen some amazing film of their ducklings leaping from the nest to the ground once they’ve hatched. It seems suicidal, but they’re astonishingly tough and leaf litter on the forest floor cushions their fall.
They occasionally appear in the UK, if they’ve escaped from captivity or as ‘vagrants’ that have been blown way off course. I’ve even seen pair on the river Thames near my home in Oxfordshire.
It was illustrated in spectacular style by John James Audubon in his book ‘Birds of America’. Audubon was, in my view, the greatest illustrator of birds that the world will ever see. He says of the wood duck:
“This beautiful species ranges over the whole extent of the United States, and I have seen it in all parts from Louisiana to the confines of Maine. It confines itself, however, entirely to fresh water, preferring at all times the secluded retreats of the ponds, bayous, or creeks, that occur so profusely in our woods. […] The flight of this species is remarkable for its speed, and the ease and elegance with which it is performed. The Wood Duck passes through the woods and even amongst the branches of trees, with as much facility as the Passenger Pigeon.”
How poignant that Audubon should mention the passenger pigeon! It was once the world’s most populous bird, numbering the billions, but it was driven to extinction in the 19th century as the USA was opened up, developed and become deforested.