UPO Wood Duck Nesting Box Initiative

UPO Wood Duck Nesting Box Initiative

Wood duck nesting boxes can be a wonderful addition to any landscape, offering a range of benefits for local ecosystems and for those who choose to install them.  In February 2023 the volunteers from the Under Pressure Outdoors Nation installed over 50 new wood duck nesting boxes and rehabilitated several additional boxes previously installed by conservationists.

Installing wood duck nesting boxes is a great way to promote wildlife conservation and biodiversity. According to a study by B Semel, PW Sherman, and SM Byers, published in The Condor in 1988, the installation of wood duck nesting boxes can be a highly beneficial means of increasing wood duck populations.  The study demonstrated nest boxes can provide a secure environment for the birds to lay their eggs, as well as offer protection from the elements and predators while reducing competition between ducks for adequate nesting sites. The study also showed the installation of nesting boxes can provide habitat for other species of birds, such as American woodcocks, black-bellied whistling ducks and other wetland species.

In addition to the direct benefit of avian species the study found the presence of nesting boxes had a positive effect on the surrounding vegetation, increasing the diversity of the local ecosystem. This was attributed to the increased number of wood ducks feeding on vegetation, providing nutrients for the soil, and helping to maintain local water sources.  Further the presence of wood duck nesting boxes was found to reduce the amount of human disturbance while encouraging a healthy balance between predators and prey, creating a harmonious environment allowing for a healthier population of wood ducks and the umbrella effect of amore diverse local ecosystem.

Constructing and installing wood duck nesting boxes is a multi-step process, simplified with forethought and planning. Nesting boxes can be made from cedar, pine, other rot-resistant wood or PVC.  Ideally the boxes should and a 12”x12” floor, 12” walls, and a sloped roof with an overhang to protect the interior from the elements. While the box should be well-built and weatherproof, it should also be reasonably lightweight and easy to transport.  Be sure to construct a means to easily clean the box and replace the nesting media before each nesting season.  A hinged top and hinged bottom can make access in cleaning fast and simple.

During installation consideration should be given to future service of the box in terms of cleaning and repairs.  In areas where water tables fluctuate the mean water height should be considered too.  Make sure the boxes are far enough off the water to minimize the chance of flooding or invasion from predators, but low enough to make it easy to fix damages and clean the box out annually.  Ideally boxes should be placed away from areas of human activity, as human interference can cause wood ducks to abandon the nest. 

Be sure to keep boxes at least 100 yards apart.  Locating boxes too closely together can lead to nest dumping when confused hens accidentally lay eggs in multiple boxes or attempt to ineffectively incubate eggs in multiple boxes.  By following these guidelines, wood duck nesting boxes can be successfully built and installed providing a safe habitat for wood ducks, larger populations, and superior hunting in the future.

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