Wood ducks prefer quiet ponds, streams, and swamps. The diets of young birds and adults are very different. At first, ducklings eat mostly insects, small invertebrates, and fish. After six weeks, they switch to aquatic plants such as duckweed. Adults feed on acorns, various nuts, seeds, and aquatic plants. During the breeding season, females also eat insects.
Also called spatterdock, this may be the plant that Illinois Indians called macopine—one of their favorite foods. Pierre Delliette, a French fur trader who lived among the Illinois in the late 1600s, says women gathered macopine roots that were "as big as one's leg." They would bake the roots for three days in a large fire pit over a layer of red-hot stones covered with grass, bark, and earth.