Biological Survey (now the U.S. It can suffocate ducklings and holds moisture. Suitable brood habitat must be available within a couple of hundred yards in order for ducklings to survive once they exit the box. The female will use this to cover the eggs during laying or when she takes feeding breaks during incubation. In plastic or metal structures, which have slick surfaces, hardware cloth ladders must be installed to provide ducklings with an escape route. When they find a good nesting site, there is a very good chance they'll return in following years. This information has been compiled from the nest box guide for waterfowl by Ducks Unlimited and the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada; and a conservator article by Mearl Ronney (Vol. By building, installing and maintaining nest boxes, individuals can gain insight into the interesting aspects of wood duck nesting and reproduction, while helping to boost local populations. A quality box first needs to be durable and built to last. Proper entry hole dimensions are critical. Cut it to the lengths shown at right. While many types and styles of wood duck boxes have been produced from a variety of materials over the years, those made from rough-cut lumber, like the original prototypes built by Hawkins and Bellrose, seem to work best. Waterfowl biologists have seen waterfowl migrating in the fall scope out potential nesting sites for next spring. These wooden structures help boost local wood duck populations, and may also be used by other cavity nesting birds. Wood duck females typically build their nests in tree cavities near wetlands. In many areas, wood ducks have difficulty finding suitable natural nesting sites. Several important factors must be considered when selecting sites to place wood duck boxes. Every year in the fall, after the nesting season has completed, or in the winter, clean out old nesting material from the box and replace it with a fresh layer of wood shavings. Fish & Wildlife Service) erected 486 bark-covered slab wooden boxes, which are thought to have been designed by biologists Gil Gigstead and Milford Smith at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge in central Illinois. Pin the door shut with a nail from the front or add a latch. Biological Survey (now the U.S. Nesting sites for these birds are limited in number. When a prospective cavity is found, a hen wood duck will land in the tree and carefully inspect the site for a variety of characteristics, including size, shape and security from predators and the elements. The deployment of large numbers of nesting boxes can be used to help increase local or regional populations of wood ducks in areas where natural cavities are limited. The ducks will find your box by seeing the contrast in color caused by the entry hole. Wood duck boxes provide an excellent opportunity for anyone to become involved in wildlife management. Over the next two years, Arthur Hawkins and renowned wood duck expert Frank Bellrose erected 700 rough-cut cypress board boxes throughout Illinois. See detailed view below. If you decide to apply a finish to your nest box, use a nontoxic wood preserver or a light shade of an earth-tone paint. Note: the shorter side (7.75") faces front. Drill a pilot hole and cut out the entry hole using a jigsaw. Wood Duck Box Plans [STEP 1] Start with a 12-foot plank of 1×10 lumber--cedar is best; pine will work. DU’s Pacific Northwest field office named WDFW Partner Organization of the Year. You'll see these birds using wooded wetlands that contain water year-round or, at least, throughout the summer. Do not use sawdust. [STEP 2] On the outer face of the front, cut an oval-shaped entry hole, 4 ½ inches wide and 3 ½ inches high. The two screws form the hinge and allow the door to open. Boxes made of plastic or metal are not preferred. As you make your cuts, label your pieces for reference during assembly. A duck box may even attract other cavity nesting birds such as kestrels, tree swallows, great crested flycatchers or screech owls. This too is a good reason to keep your boxes in top condition. Cavity nesting ducks do not carry nesting materials. Below are plans for a nest box that you can build, install and maintain. Drill five 1/2" drainage holes into the floor (3) as shown. If you decide to apply a finish to your nest box, use a nontoxic wood preserver or a light shade of an earth-tone paint. Improving water quality in Lake Mitchell S.D. It's important to help them out by placing four to six inches of wood shavings in the bottom of the box. The most effective way to provide defense from these marauders is to install a predator guard on the pole supporting the box. Rough-cut, unfinished lumber is preferred because ducklings have no trouble climbing the inside of the box with their sharp claws to reach the exit hole. Once a cavity nesting bird starts using your box, you'll likely see many broods raised over the years. Wood Duck Box Design. Unfortunately, their distribution within densely settled regions made them readily accessible to market hunters throughout the year. Ducks Unlimited does not recommend applying a finish to cedar boxes. To increase the chances of your nest box being used by waterfowl, it should be located in an area attractive to cavity nesting ducks. Measure and cut your board to produce the six pieces as shown below. These ducks build nests in abandoned woodpecker holes or natural tree cavities caused by disease, fire or lightning. The horizontal slots will provide toe holds when the ducklings climb out. See our tips for building a predator guard and finding the right place to install. Fasten the door at the top with one screw from the front and one from the back. You can find wood shavings at your local pet or farm supply store. Overharvesting, coupled with the destruction of bottomland habitats, drove these colorful birds to the brink of extinction by the early 20th century. You do not want the wood to be treated because it can be poisonous to avian species. Double check your measurements for accuracy before cutting. Be sure and construct a predator guard for your wood duck box before installing. Ideally, a four-inch layer of wood shavings should be added to each box for nesting material. Wood duck boxes provide a man-made alternative, where hens can nest in relative safety from predators. Already have a nesting box? The ducks will find your box by seeing the contrast in color caused by the entry hole. In 1937, the U.S. Protect your eyes: Wear your safety glasses. Do not use treated lumber. Cavity nesting ducks do not carry nesting materials. DU celebrates historic signing of ACE Act into law, These wooden structures help boost local wood duck populations. This represented the first recorded use of artificial nesting structures for wood ducks. The dimensions of the box should be large enough to hold 12 to 15 clutch eggs and hen. 19, No. However, the recovery of the wood duck was also assisted by the advent of artificial nesting structures, or wood duck boxes. You … Care must be taken to ensure that the guard fits tightly against the post and that no overhanging tree limbs allow predators to bypass the predator shield. You can also use other lumber such as pine or plywood. Attach the roof (6) using four screws from the top and three screws from the back (be careful not to screw into the door). The dramatic rebound of wood duck populations since that time can be largely attributed to protection provided by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. In addition, shallow, fertile wetlands with thick cover and an abundance of invertebrates typically provide the best habitat for broods.
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