Box Placement

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Box Placement

Postby VTduckman » Wed Feb 15, 2006 4:13 pm

I have made some nesting boxe's, where in my hunting area is the best place, on the edge of cat tails, in the middle of them, in timber, any other places ?
Season Totals-
Canada's-Alot
2 Mallards
2 Blacks
15 Green Wing
5 Wood Ducks
1 Can.
1 Pintail
Hooded Merganser
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Postby h2ofwlr » Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:48 pm

Wood duck boxes
The best way to obtain the wood duck boxes is to buy them from the MWA in their precut kit form. The free plans are also available on their website and are pretty much self explanatory. It has a side opening door for easy access for maintenance. http://www.mnwaterfowl.com/images/ar...ducation_1.pdf Cedar boards is best because it does not rot so easily. Pine boards is second best, it is less cost, but it rots sooner. Do NOT use treated wood---due to documented lethal off gassing of the chemicals in it causes deformities. I also do not recommend plywood as the glue does not let the wood "breath" (regular wood stays cooler in the summer heat) which is important in hot weather. Here is a tip: at the top of the side door, keep it dropped down a 1/4" for cross ventilation in hot weather and for no binding on the door. Also keep the floor board up a 1/2" from the sides so rain water running down the outside does no soak it so easily.

Placement of wood duck boxes.
A word of warning---PLEASE do NOT mount the Wood Duck Boxes on trees!
Here are 3 reasons why from Dr Strand (a good friend to the MWA) and from my experiences from years of putting them up and yearly maintenance:
1. If mounted on tree there is up to 80% predation by Raccoons-It is a death trap for the hen Wood Duck! :eek:
2. Squirrels invade them and take it over so Woodies will not nest in it. :thumbsdown:
3. The tree will in a 2 to 4 years time split the Wood Duck box’s back board that is mounted to the tree on due to tree growth. :thumbsdown:
So what is the solution?
Mount the box on a pole. :thumbsup: This can be a highway sign "hat" channel, an 10' landscape timber, a 10’ piece of 1” well pipe, etc...
Place the pole at least 30' away from any trees or overhanging branches. This way no Raccoons or Squirrels can jump to it. But there MUST be a predator guard under the box to prevent predation. Up to 80% of the nesting boxes are predated per documented studies. The best defense against predation is the cone shaped sheet metal type as seen on the pole to your right. Did you know that when the Wood Duck ducklings hatch they stay in the box for 1 full day? Have you ever heard how much peeping they make? It is like a "dinner is ready!" for the Raccoons, Fox and Mink from all the peeping noise!!! In my opinion it is ESSENTIAL to have a predator guard. It is far better to place 2 Wood Duck boxes with each having a cone shaped predator guard than 10 boxes with out it. And you save hen Woodies from being eaten by the predators not to mention the eggs destroyed! The guards are about $14 -17 to make or buy for each post with the 2 brackets. You can also place the boxes on highway posts out in the sloughs over water -but again predator guard is highly recommended.



Height of box.
The box bottom only needs to be 6 to 9' off the ground/water. No more height than this is needed. In populated areas (parks, boat landings, etc.) 9' is best so people to do not bang on the box, etc. thus disturbing the Woodies. It is best if the boxes are not placed where dogs regularly run about-the hens think they are fox (predator) and are not nearly as likely to nest. In unpopulated locations, 6' high is just fine. The 6' level makes it easy for the yearly changing of the bedding. The 9' level will need a 6-7' stepladder for the maintenance. The idea of the bottom of the box needing to be any higher than the 6-9' high level is pure fiction (scientific studies have debunked this myth) and being higher is a lot more dangerous (falling off ladder) to you the installers and maintainers of the boxes.


Also quite important when installing them in open fields/prairie areas is that if they are over 8' high the owls and hawks and such like to sit on top of the box to survey the area for food---so keep them low (6-7') because especially if over 10' tall on a post you are inviting troubles from the raptors.



Predator Guards.

The guard is similar to an upside down funnel except flatter and no spout. About a 45-degree angle from the upright pole works good. Make it out of sheet metal that is 3' wide. Mark and cut it into a 3' circle. Then mark and cut a wedge out of the circle about 12" on the outside to 1" at the center. At dead center cut about a 3 to 5" hole depended on pole size used (you want it to come very close to the pole so the critters like Mink or squirrels can not get past the opening between the pole and guard). You then pull the edges together and lap them and use 2 Vise Grips (top and bottom) to hold it together. Use 2 sheet metal self tapping hex head screws, 1 at top and 1 at bottom edge of the overlapping metal. [Or drill 2- 3/16” holes (top and bottom at overlap) into sheet metal and use 2 - 1/8” x 3/4” L. Pan Head bolts and washer and lock nuts. (Using a bolt and nut is better for the long term) ] To mount the guard, attach the brackets to pipe. The brackets are about 8" long when bent (16" total length x ¾” wide x 3/16” thick) and bend them (use vise) closed to 45 degrees (like a “V”). When bought in a hardware store, these are 2 – 90 degree right angle strap metal brackets should be pre drilled and you then bend them to 45 degrees. Otherwise if you buy raw stock you need to cut and drill them. Before you bend them, drill one end with a 1/4” hole 1” from end and the other end with a 11/16” hole 3” from end. To Mount the bracket, drill the 11/32” hole into the pipe 12” down from the base plate, then mount the 2 brackets using a 5/16” bolt to go through bracket, pipe, bracket and secure with lock nut. [If using threaded well pipe, drill the 11/32” hole in the pipe, but instead for ease of assembly, use a 2’ long piece of pipe as a dummy post in the vise on a work bench to help assemble to guard, and attach it to pipe when out in the field]. Now attach the sheet metal guard to the brackets with 2 – 1/8” x 1” L. Pan Head bolts, washers and lock nuts. Place a 3/16” drill bit thru the ¼” hole of the bracket from underneath and the drill a hole through the lapped sheet metal and attach the small bolt, and then attach the other bracket to the sheet metal in the same way. It is now completed. Needless to say much of this work is done at home in your garage/shop so you have the proper tools around. The guards can also be bought in kit form from Chapel Central in Willmar, MN 320-235-2151 (which will ship the guards) which is what I do for convenience sake. They come precut and with the brackets. But you still have to drill the holes, etc…
The Guard should be mounted a minimum of 3’ above surface of the high water mark or a min 4’ if over ground.


It is far better to do it the right way the first time. I hope this helps to guide you in helping the Woodies.
:smile:



This photo was taken before we had the predator guard up in place, as it normally would be right below my hand.
[siteimg]250[/siteimg]
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Postby harvey1b » Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:58 am

Thanks h2ofwlr. That is really helpful.

My question is will predators swim to a box? I placed one on an island in the middle of a big pond ~30 yrds away from the shore in any direction. The water is ~1.5' deep where the box is mounted. The bottom of the box is ~3' above the water surface. I pounded an 8' section of galvanized pipe into the island but when only 2' remained above the ice surface I put a 3' 4x4 wooden extension on the end of the pipe. The box is mounted on the 4x4, which sits about 1.5' above the water level. I didn't put a prediator guard on it because I just can imagine a racoon or fox swimming out to the island. In the event a predator did swim out there I don't see how it could gain enough purchase on the galvaized pipe to climb to the box. The water is deep enough that it would have to be a huge friggin coon to reach the 4x4.

Is my logic sound or do you think it is preditor susceptible?

Thanks again for your great help.

-Matt
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Postby locked n landing » Thu Feb 16, 2006 9:06 am

H2ofwlr that must have taken awhile to type. Alot of information
there. As far as box placement goes, do you try to keep the
boxes out of site from each other to minimize "egg dumping"?
I have tried to with mine but a year ago I found 23 eggs in
one box. It isn't fun maintaining boxes like that with all
those wasted eggs.
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Postby h2ofwlr » Thu Feb 16, 2006 3:46 pm

Harvey,
Yes a Coon or Mink can easily swim to to the island. Fox not so much so. IMO the box is too low, as they like boxes 6' or higher. Granted forget the myths of boxes needing to be 15' up, but 9' level is about best height. I would see if you could put an coupler with an extension on it. Often well drillers will donate used pipe if you ask, or sell it for scrap prices. They come in 21' sections, so likely you'll need to ciut it down some. Maybe do a cut at 6' and use as an extension, and use the 15' for a new box. I use 1" ID pipe. But the best is the highway sign hat channel posts IMO. I am lucky, I can get as much used channel as they have. But I have connection there, and they have always supported the Box and mallard nest efforts. Ask your local city or County highway dept if they have any used posts that you can have. Watch out for the A & B models--meaning 1 slips into the other easily, but if you get 2 Bs or 2 As, they will not fit snugly at all.

BTW, oh yes a Racoon can climb the 1" pipe. When mounting over water there are 3 considerations. 1st is location--I like the hole facing North to east direction, seems the "black" hole is more visible for the woodies in the morning sunlight when they are looking for a nesting place. 2nd is ice flows, if on a lake the ice can easily push over the pole, so I like smaller finger bays of no more than 50' wide or small ponds, even then occasionally a pole will be bent over. Thus why I mount most over land. (I use a 12' L pipe). 3rd is Coon, Mink and Fox frequent shor lines, so I like to keep away from the actual shoreline. Either I go out in the water 25' or upland 25' The big thing is keep away from the trees where the squirrels and coons are climbing.


LL, Yes. I have found a better % of sucessful nests when the area is not overloading with boxes. Egg dumping still can happen though, but not as much as when lots of boxes are around. BTW, I C&Pd that as I have it saved in a file.
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Postby locked n landing » Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:05 pm

Thanks for all your knowledge h2ofwler. Hope you have a
great nesting season.
If anyone else is interested in information about woodduck
boxes here is another link:

http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/woodduck.pdf

I know it talks about Washington State but there is alot
of other useful info there.
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Postby fabes468 » Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:47 am

about the box placment, how far away or how close does the box have to be to the water?
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