The how to of Wood Duck boxes.

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The how to of Wood Duck boxes.

Postby h2ofwlr » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:36 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. They cost $30 + S/H. 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. 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! :(/
2. Squirrels invade them and take it over so Woodies will not nest in it. :cry:
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. :(
So what is the solution?
Mount the box on a pole. :Obanana 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. :)!

You may also want to check this site too:
The Audacity of Bull Crap.
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Hey I resemble that comment!!! Those are FIGHTING WORDS!!!
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Postby Braidwood Hunter » Thu May 08, 2008 4:26 pm

What should the correct measurements be for the wood to build a box?
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Postby tsmart » Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:33 am

Nice post.

Couple points I'd like to add...

Myself, I avoid Cedar. Cedar has been know to cause respiratory distress in small mammals and birds... And avoid cedar shavings as well (use pine shavings).

Boxes can be mounted on small trees, as long as the tress are "topped", as to eliminate above access by predators. In flood zones, tress actually work best, as the root systems will hold in place and your box not be washed away by floods as easily. Cone Predator guards can be put on the smaller trees, or metal flashing guards can be added - to restrict predator access from below. It's best to move the boxes up (or down) a couple inches every two years, to avoid expanding tree growth from destroying the box.

As for height of the box.... I mount them at the height to where we can access them by boat at eye level. This eliminates the need of carying a ladder, or using telescopic poles (which are expensive).

Just sayin...
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