Bringing Wood Ducks Back To Banfill Island

Our Wood Duck Conservation Story

wood duck house on pole


From the banks of the Mississippi river on March 26th 2016. I wanted to give an update and some background on our wood duck restoration project my brother Dan and I started back in the Spring of 2013. I can’t believe we are about to start the fourth breeding season and how successful this has been.

How it Started

It was a cold and snowy winter in 2013 and my brother Dan, myself and our roommate Todd were watching old video tapes about Banfill island and wood ducks created by the late Walter J Breckenridge. We had obtained these tapes from Walter’s daughter Barbara Franklin who is our neighbor. Walter was a pioneer in wood duck conservation and nobody was caring for the wood ducks that were once abundant near his home.

The next day Dan came home with the lumber and the reaserch began on wood duck house designs.

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 from 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.

wood duck house

The Location

Banfill island is a 22 acre island on the Mississippi located in Brooklyn Park, MN. The island is owned by the Izaak Walton League and offers ideal habitat for wood ducks. We are very fortunate and live across the street from the island so maintaining and monitoring the house is quite convienient.

We put up 13 wood duck houses on the west side of the island. We chose this side so we could see them from the Izaak Walton League and so our neighbors on the river could observe them. The houses span about half of the length of the island and are spaced about 150-200 feet from each other.

We hauled the houses and poles to the island in our jon boat and it took several trips and a lot of work pounding in the 13 poles.


View from Izaak Walton League


Nest Box Maintenance

Every spring we go out and inspect the houses and make sure everything is tidy for the wood duck hens. My neighbor Matt and I took his canoe over to the island on 4/4/2016 and several houses had evidence that nest building has begun.


Wood Duck Hen