Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wood Duck Box - Spring Maintenance

Screech Owl critter encounter in a wood duck box

The wood duck plays an important role as one of the top ducks in the hunter’s bag. The federal limit per day per hunter for wood ducks was raised from two woodies to a three wood duck limit just a few years ago due to a sustainable harvest. Hunters need to play a role in spring by maintaining wood duck boxes to aid in their reproduction.

Unlike most other species of ducks, the wood duck can adapt to nest in a man made duck box. True to their name, wood ducks haunt the woodlands and are also adept at nesting in tree cavities and other hideaways. Among the earliest ducks to begin nesting, wood ducks are usually paired up by the end of February and looking for a suitable nesting site.

Wood ducks can be picky though, especially as it concerns previously used wood duck boxes. If egg shells and moldy bedding materials are present in early spring, they may shun that box. Wildlife managers must be willing to visit and service their boxes each and every year. This gives the outdoor enthusiast a great reason to be outside, and provides an opportunity to encounter wildlife.
My typical wood duck box maintenance set up

Opening a wood duck box in order to empty the contents and provide fresh bedding sounds like an easy chore, but there is a lot of adventure along the way. First, consider that the wildlife manager is likely up on a step ladder and perched over some kind of water.

Use a pair of leather gloves to scoop out any old bedding material, egg shells, spider webs and residue. Then add fresh pine shavings to cover the entire bottom of the nest box, and then fasten the lid shut. The hen wood duck will add her own down feathers to the bedding when she begins laying eggs.

To view past articles about wood duck boxes click here

For past blog entries on wood ducks click on hunting or cooking.

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