Restoration of wood duck habitat – Year Two

created in category Wood Ducks

Bluebirds Across Nebraska is now preparing for Year Two of its 3-year Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund program -- Restoration of Wood Duck Habitat. In Year One of the grant, 50 wood duck boxes were distributed. This year, an additional 100 boxes will be distributed. As was the case last year, an application to participate in the program must be submitted. The value of the program benefits far outweigh the cost of participating. The program fee in Year Two will be $25.00, a $5.00 increase over last year, due to the steep rise in metal prices (i.e. mounting pole, predator guard). Membership in BAN is required to apply.

Members participating in BAN's Wood Duck Program will receive:

  • All-cedar wood duck box
  • Wood shavings
  • Hardware for mounting the box
  • Mounting pole
  • Predator guard
  • Educational packet
  • Workshop
  • One-year membership to The Wood Duck Society
  • Starling trap (upon request)

Anyone accepted to participate in this program will be required to monitor their wood duck box on a regular basis, and turning in a report at the end of the season is mandatory.

If you are interested in helping restore wood duck habitat through this new program, send a letter to BAN with your name, address, phone number, and the location and description of the habitat where you propose to place your wood duck box. If accepted, you will be notifi ed by mail and reminded of the educational “Wood Duck Workshop” -- where you will pick up your Wood Duck Basics book, box, mounting pole, etc.-- which will be held on Sunday, February 6th, at 12:00 noon at Schramm State Park (located 7 miles south of Gretna (I-80 Exit #432). Dave Titterington, who did an excellent job gathering information for last year's workshop, will once again present the program. For those unable to attend the workshop, other arrangements can be made. The fee for program participation will be collected at the workshop/ box distribution. Please do not include fee payment with your application. The deadline for submitting your application is January 10, 2005.

Do I Have Good Wood Duck Habitat?

Roger Strand, Past-President and current Secretary of the Wood Duck Society, wrote an article published in BAN's Winter 2003-04 Newsletter, that included the following information:

Before placing a nest box for wood ducks, think first of the primary needs of the hen and her brood:

TREES: Wood ducks have evolved to nest in tree cavities; the hen will be keying on trees during her spring nest search. In Nebraska (and elsewhere), this may mean river bottoms and creeks, with their streamside ribbons of old deciduous trees. Nearby groves will be searched as well. This does NOT mean the box should be mounted on a tree. Instead, sink a pole in the ground, at least eight feet from a tree and away from overhanging limbs, and mount the box with the bottom of the hole just six feet from the ground. Attach a predator guard (metal cone is best) below the box. The hen will find it just fine, and she will not have to deal with squirrels, raccoons, and mink. No ladders needed!

WATER, FOOD, AND COVER: During the egg-laying period, a hen needs protein, and lots of it. She'll be searching out aquatic invertebrates (think bugs) found in shallow wetlands and river backwaters. This is also where she'll be leading her hungry ducklings after the hatch, for the same reason. If the wetland is half-filled with downed trees, flooded brush, and vegetation, so much the better. Such waters are food-rich and provide safe brood cover. Hens have been known to lead their ducklings a mile overland to good brood waters. Overland treks are hazardous, so try to place the box close to brood water. This does not necessarily mean avoiding sites around your home, if you're lucky enough to live near good habitat. Woodies are tolerant of buildings, including kitchen window observation points, which adds to the enjoyment of this hobby. As a rule, wood duck hens home back to where they were fledged, or where they were successful the year before. They will, however, pioneer to new areas. Keep box placement in tune with a wood duck's primary habitat needs, be patient, and success is very apt to follow. Good luck!

Originally printed in Bluebirds Across Nebraska Newsletter BANner Volume 11 Number 3 Fall 2004