Looking for Feathered Tenants
5:30 AM – June 19, 2017
Let me update you on the wood duck project on the farm this year…
Clearly I was late in getting my wood duck boxes up on the farm this year. It should have been done in late February, so I was about 4 weeks late. Because of my poor timing, I expected to find very little activity when I inspected our six new wood duck boxes. In locating the boxes they were placed in a range of locations and orientations to the sun and water to see what worked well. Generally all of the boxes were put on 4×4 posts within a few feet of shallow water. I will not take any credit for building the boxes; I ordered them in kits and even got help constructing them. Time to do a project like this was not in the schedule, but it needed to be done.
About a month ago, I did an early morning tour of our boxes looking for tenants. I was pleased to see 1/2 of the boxes had been utilized for nesting. The boxes with the best or largest nests were along the wooded pond. There was a lot of construction in each nest as two of the three used boxes were quite full of building materials from the forest.
In only one of the boxes did I find any evidence of eggs but they appeared not to be wood duck eggs. After some research it appears they were from a type of finch. In addition to the eggs in this box I also discovered a snake skin. I was not timely in getting my predator guards on the posts. I now have the guards and they will be on for next nesting season for sure.
The positive is some woodies found the boxes but it is unlikely we had any major success. I knew it was late getting them up and at least now the farm is ready to grow some wood ducks next year. Maryland DNR and private volunteers have been working for years to raise wood duck populations. Here is a link to how to build a wood duck box and there is additional information on the DNR website about the conservation initiative.