Do It Yourself Wood Duck Conservation
It’s been a brutal winter here in Minnesota but spring will be here before we know it. Now’s the time to get involved in some wood duck conservation. This would be a great activity for your family or if your involved with some sort of youth group. I will be going over the basics to get you started.
What you need to get started
- Wood Duck House.
- Access to a location with water and trees.
- Bird Field Guide.
- Patience & Love of Nature.
I want to start with location first and the reason why is I want to show people that they don’t need to be land owners or live in the country to get involved in wood duck conservation.
My brother and I put out thirteen wood duck houses in the spring of 2013. All these houses are within 8 miles of downtown Minneapolis on land we do not own but have permission from the landowner. Our plan is to put out a dozen more this spring.
Ours are on the Mississippi River but any body of water that has large trees near the shoreline will attract wood ducks. Ideally you would want to chose a location that already has wood ducks. You are going to need to do some scouting and asking around to find your spot.
Start asking friends and co workers if they know anybody with land that may have wood ducks. Tell them your plan that you want to put up a wood duck house and study the life cycle and improve nature. Let people know you plan on taking pictures and videos and notes. It’s a win/win for you and the landowner. You provide the wood duck house they provide their backyard. Wood ducks are born and friendships start.
You could put up a free ad in Craigslist explaining that you want to start a wood duck conservation program and that you need some land. You will get responses, just be honest and let them know what your trying to accomplish and you will find a spot. Just try to keep it as close to your house as possible.
We decided to try two different sizes of wood duck houses to see if the ducks had any preference. The first house was designed by Don “The Duckman” Helmeke who is the director of the Wood Duck Society. The dimensions of this house are 9 by 10 by 24 and I have included the download link here so you can get the specifics Wood Duck House Plans.
The second design is quite a bit smaller at 6 by 8 by 15. These plans were put out by the Wildlife Habitat Council. We noticed these smaller houses were getting a lot of attention on the internet and in wildlife forums. I’m not a wood duck but these houses just seem to small. I guess we will find out soon. Here are the plans Click Here.
For building material we chose to use pine to cut the cost. Cedar is probably the most popular type of wood used because it does not rot and does not need to be painted. However it costs about 3 times more then pine. Because we were building 13 wood duck houses and had the whole winter to prime and paint we went with pine. We were able to make the houses for about $20-$25 a piece less the pole and predator guard.
I’m not going to go into detail about building the houses because I have included the plans, but I do want to bring up two details that I see a lot of people skip when building their wood duck houses. The first is a removable side door. I know it’s a little more work for you when your building the house but the benefits are huge in the field. It makes cleaning and observation a snap. The second feature is the escape ladder for the ducklings to get out of the nest. We used wire mesh and when we put the houses up we angled them slightly forward to aid the ducklings in being able to climb the ladder.
Now it’s time to install the wood duck box. We used old street sign poles and attached the house to them. You can attach your wood duck box to a tree but when you do that you risk the chance of raccoon’s and squirrels getting in and damaging the eggs. Our wood duck boxes are about 6 feet off the ground.