Wood Ducks forage in the water by taking food from the surface and up-ending to reach food underneath. They also graze on land. Pairs form on the wintering grounds, and males attract females by showing off their brightly colored plumage. Females demonstrate strong fidelity to the sites where they hatched (philopatry), and they lead their mates back to those sites in the spring.
Male Wood Ducks are flamboyant in breeding plumage, practically unmistakable with their brightly colored chestnut and yellow bodies, green droop-crested heads, bright red bills, and bold white barring on their faces and bodies. Females are drabber, with subtle iridescence on overall grayish-brown bodies, spotted flanks, and a white teardrop surrounding each eye. Juveniles appear similar to females, as do non-breeding males in eclipse plumage (from June to September), although they have the red bill and white facial markings.