Sunday, 1 March 2015

Wood Duck Box Cleanout Part 2

Last weekend I finally decided that with a break in our unseasonably cold weather, I should clean out the remainder of the wood duck boxes on our property.  I was really looking forward to preparing the boxes and bringing along my camera to take lots of pictures for the blog. 

Well, things did not turn out the way I had hoped.  The snow was so deep that I attempted to take the snowmobile and tie a ladder onto the back.  The problem was, the drifts were too deep for even the snowmobile and I spent a good portion of the afternoon trying to dig out a stuck snowmobile twice.  Both, times I had to give up and call my brother and the tracter to fight through the snow to pull me out.  Luckily the tractor did not get stuck either time.  On a more positive note however, I got three of the four remaining boxes cleaned and ready for the spring breeding season.  The final one is in an area that I can easily get to when the snow melts.  I was on my way to it when I got stuck the second time and after finally getting out, was not in the mood to deal with it.  When I get to it, I will include the findings from that box sometime in another post.

The first box of the day was on my brother's pond on the farm next door.  While there, I took a picture of the same scene I photograped last summer, it made for an interesting comparison. 
When I got the box open, it became clear that whatever had lived in there last, it was not a wood duck.  The amount of grassy stems is not a duck nest.  Wood duck hens pluck down from the breast and together with the shavings is all they need. 

The next duck boxes that I hope to put up will not be quite as high :)
It was after this that I got stuck for the first time trying to turn the snowmobile around.  That took time to warm up the tractor in the cold weather and get through the snow without ending up with a stuck snowmobile and tractor. 

With the snowmobile free, I moved on to a box on the edge of a ditch between our farms.

There was not much in here, but a few feathers signified some type of raptor, screech owl or american kestrel maybe at some point.

The third box was apparently one of the most successful from last year.
The thick down from the hen and bits of shell were signs of a good hatch.
 After this I got stuck on my way to the final box.  By the time my brother had pulled me out for the second time, I was ready to call it a day.  But that last box is not forgotten and I plan to return to it hopefully before the ducks do. 

So overall, it wasn't a great day, but I am happy that I managed to get several boxes done.  The wood ducks are always an incredible sign of spring and I hope to continue to manage these boxes and continue to have wood ducks nesting on our farm for a long time to come. 


  1. You reminded me that I have to clean out my Tree Swallow/Mountain Bluebird boxes. But there's no chance of me getting stuck in the snow -- it's all melted!

    1. Sounds like we must be getting your snow here in Ontario. We have a number of tree swallow/ eastern bluebird boxes as well that I should get to.