houses for ducks that live in trees? Yes, a few ducks do nest in trees on
a regular basis, and these include the Bufflehead, Wood Duck, Goldeneyes
and Mergansers. These ducks commonly nest in tree cavities, which makes
them good candidates for man-made habitats.
are incapable of excavating a cavity to live in as a woodpecker might,
so they search for an existing hole ... and a rather large one at that.
Their acceptable cavities are fewer than ever, making them quite dependent
on human benefactors. Young forests, and those without woodpeckers or
flickers, will not have cavities suitable for ducks
The Wood Duck is
commonly found throughout the eastern half of the US and in the Northwest.
One of our most colorful waterfowl, the Wood Duck, has been a victim of
loss of habitat, causing serious nesting problems. The cutting of forests
and drainage of swamps, as well as hunting, left Wood Duck populations
at a seriously low level early in this century.
the 1930s and 1940's a conservation effort was begun. Hunting was stopped,
and nesting boxes were put up to enable the Wood Duck to recover. This
effort was highly successful, and today the population is once again
Wood Duck, appropriately for its name, lives in woodland ponds and streams
bordered by forests. In these secluded areas, a canoeist may come upon
one swimming ahead of the canoe. If they are startled, they sound their
characteristic "oo-eek" whistle and disappear into the woods.
Wood Duck breeds April through June. Its nest is made of wood chips
lined with feathers from the female's breast. She lays 11 to 14 eggs
which incubate 27 to 30 days. The little hatchlings spend only a day
in their nest. After hatching in the nesting box, they hear their mother
calling outside the nest. They climb up the inside of the box and, while
they can barely walk and cannot fly, they jump out to mother waiting
on the ground. They fall through the air, sometimes as much as 60 feet
to the water or after one bounce follow their mother to the water, where
she can better protect them from predators.
fall seems to never hurt them. And they are quite capable of feeding
themselves after this first day. Mother's only job is to protect
Wood Duck does not bring nesting material to the boxes. They merely
line them with down and breast feathers.
The Common Merganser
has a black head and a mostly black back, with striking white body
and tail. The female is a grayish color with a rust-colored crested
head. The Hooded Merganser has a large white crest on its black head
that is its distinctive marking, white breast and belly, and grayish
sides with two white stripes. The female is brownish all over with
darker wings and a light rusty-brown crest.
female lays 8 to 12 eggs which hatch in 28 to 33 days. The breeding
period is from April through June, and only one brood is raised each
year. They migrate south in winter.
The Hooded Merganser
can be found in the extreme Northwest US, as well as, in most states
east of the Missouri River. They are the smallest merganser and are
seen mostly in fall and winter along rivers and lakes. The Common
Merganser is found in every state on lakes and along wooded rivers
and ponds. In winter they may be seen on salt bays as well.
is a striking duck 16" to 20" long with a white body and black back.
Its name arises from the golden eye which stands out prominently in
the black head. Barrow's Goldeneye has more black on the back, with
a black and white pattern on the wings. The head appears black from
a distance, but is actually a dark iridescent purple. Each has a white
spot in front of the eye, the Barrow's Goldeneye having a more crescent-shaped
spot, while the Common Goldeneye's spot is more round.
Common Goldeneye is found from Alaska across Canada and the northern
states, wintering as far south as the Gulf Coast. It nests near lakes
and ponds, and in winter prefers the coast.
Goldeneye is seen along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California,
as well as along the North Atlantic coast to Long Island. It prefers
lakes at high elevations and may be found in Colorado and other mountain
breeding period is from May into July. Eight to ten light olive green
eggs incubate for 30 to 32 days and only one brood is raised each year.
is a small duck with striking black and white markings. Its body is
white, with a black back. The head appears black from a distance,
but has lovely purple and green iridescent coloration with a large
white patch behind the eye. The female's white patch is smaller on
are found in Canada and across the US, except in the north central states
and the Appalachians.
breeding period is from May through June, and only one brood is raised
each year. They migrate south or to coastal areas in winter.
Inside the duck
house, the ducklings have to climb from the nest to the entrance hole,
so the interior should have a rough surface. Nesting material must
be provided for insulation and to keep the eggs from rolling around.
the house slightly forward will help the youngsters to climb out, too.
It should be away from branches that may obstruct the entrance.
best place to mount the house is on a pole in the water. This protects
the ducks from predators who live in areas near water, such as raccoons.
It should sit about 4 to 6 feet above the water. If it is placed at
the water's edge, the house should be 10 to 20 feet high.
baffle around the pole or tree will discourage predators. Once the ducks
have begun a nest in the box, do not disturb it.
female will lay her eggs in the nesting box, after which her mate has
little to do with her. After hatching, the young ducklings are safe
from predators only with mother in the water. So at the tender age of
one day, they are called by their mothers, and they leap from the entrance
hole to the water, or to the ground if the nest is in a tree over land.
They follow her around for about two weeks for protection, though they
are quite capable of feeding and caring for themselves at birth.
the ducklings' common predators is the raccoon, and one way to eliminate
this threat is to place your duck house over water. It may be placed on
a pole in the bottom of a lake or pond, so that it sits about 4 to 6 feet
above the water's surface. If they are placed over land, a baffle should
be made around the tree or post to keep the raccoons from climbing up.