Habitat for Ducks


Cree Vicar Dave – SASS Life # 49907

One Saturday morning last May I was sitting in our living room looking out the window at the beauty of nature. I always say, "Michigan in the summer is what Heaven will be like." Well May is not quite summer but some of its days do measure up.

We have a pond next to our home. That pond has been the best investment the Vicar’s Wife and I have ever made. We receive untold hours of enjoyment observing the attracted wildlife. Back in the 1990’s I spotted wood ducks in the area. That spurred me to build wood duck houses. Since then I have installed 4 houses on our pond and several for neighbors and friends who live in the surrounding area.

Well on that Saturday morning I was referring to I noticed a hen wood duck looking out of one of the houses on our pond. This was unusual because they normally don’t waste any time entering or exiting their abode. After a few minutes she flew down to the water and then swam back to the house. As I watched to my wonder and amazement a little head appeared in the oval opening of the house. The newly hatched wood duck jumped to his mother’s side. I called the Vicar’s Wife over and we witnessed twelve more ducklings flutter down to their mom’s side in 20 second intervals. Then they proceeded to swim into the weeds for cover. In the 15 plus years the wood duck houses have adorned our pond this was the first time that we had witnessed the little ones coming out party. The adults are usually only seen early in the morning when the drake lands and swims around with the hen, and just before the sun sets. They are very weary of people but have learned to tolerate us a little over the years.

Wood ducks had a rough time in the early 1900’s because their natural nesting sights (hollow trees) were becoming scarce. Someone discovered that they would nest in a man made box and now they are flourishing. It says in Genesis 2:15 "And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it." (Amplified Bible) One of the best ways to care for God’s creation is to make proper housing for the birds of the air. I read in a bird book that sometimes more than one wood duck will lay their eggs in a nesting box and then one hen sits on them. Or if the house is large enough two hens will nest in the same box. Even other box nesting ducks, such as Hooded Mergansers, will share a house.

Wood duck nesting boxes are fairly easy to build for anyone with proper tools, skills and safety equipment. I got the plans from a forestry officer in our community. The house plan size is around 12" wide by 12" deep by 24" high. The entrance hole for wood ducks and hooded mergansers is a 3" high by 4" wide oval. I make it around a half inch larger per chance a common Golden eye shows up. The hole should be large enough to allow access to the ducks while keeping predators out. If the entrance is cut very much larger the 3-1/2" by 4-1/2" raccoons and such have easy pickins. If you place the nest box on a wood post a cone shaped predator guard should be installed. I place most of the houses I build on some type of steel pipe to deter predators. The plan calls for the box to be made from 1" by 12" cedar. Pine will work but will not last as long. I use rough sawn cedar. It can be used as it is or planed down to size. It is hard to find white cedar around here in 12" boards so I end up using 1" by 10" when I can find it. They can be made with narrower lumber and pieced together. A strip of quarter or half inch hardware cloth is installed on the inside front leading up to the entry hole to aid the baby ducks in climbing out. I make the sides swing out and up from the bottom, like Bluebird houses, for easy access. The boxes should be inspected after each season, cleaned and new red cedar shavings added as needed, around 3" to 4" will do. Take care to be up wind and avoid ingesting dust from the old nest as there have been rare cases of people contracting ailments from the dust. The box is placed 3 to 5 feet above water or ground.

If you don’t have a State Forestry office in your area or have trouble locating plans I would be happy to aid you in caring for God’s Creation. Drop me a line. Remember to always follow all safety and health rules when working on projects.

Bird habitat such as this can supply endless hours of entertainment.


Hope ta see ya on the trail.

God bless,

Cree Vicar Dave