Building wood duck houses and getting out in the woods to hang them in the spring time is a great way to get back outdoors after a long winter. From building to walking out in the woods and hanging them your kids will have a blast and also learn a little about the importance of conservation. I can still remember growing up and joining others to build and hang boxes each spring with a group organized by a local DU committee member. It was always a lot of fun. Below you will find free plans complete with step-by-step instructions, tips for location, and yearly maintenance suggestions.
First begin by downloading and printing our fully dimensioned wood duck house plans which also include a full list of materials needed. Selecting a weather-resistant wood such as cedar or cypress is recommended, but I have built many nesting boxes from white pine that have lasted close to ten years. The key to extending the life of this house is to use fasteners such as screws or ring shanked nails to hold the house together. Over the years I have witnessed several houses fall apart simply because regular nails were used while the wood was still in decent condition. Donít be stingy with the screws or nails. The outside surface of the house and not the inside can also be treated with Thompsonís water sealer which will help preserve it. Another option is to add a white ring around the entrance hole using spray paint which will add contrast to the entrance hole so it is more easily seen. Donít forget to put a good a 3-6 inch layer of wood chips in the bottom of the box to serve as nesting material and to help prevent the eggs from rolling around. When cutting the entrance donít be tempted to make it any bigger than specified in the plans. The small hole is more than big enough for a wood duck to enter and helps keep out predators such as raccoons.
Hanging wood duck houses will probably be the most fun for your kids since its outdoors and close to water. So pick a nice day, bring along plenty of snacks, and don't rush. This is also a good time to do a little scouting for the fall hunting season. In the past I have hung most of my houses in the general areas I hunt as these areas are prime habitat. Because the hen will lead her ducklings to water soon after they hatch, the area between the house and the water's edge should be free of any major obstacles such as roads or fencing. Houses should also be located at least 100 feet apart to help reduce nest dumping. This occurs when multiple hens lay eggs in the same nest which is not desirable as many of the egg may not hatch. When attaching the house to a tree I recommend using 4" deck screws or ring shank nails can be very difficult to hammer in when standing on a ladder, especially the ones on top of the house.
Each spring before the wood ducks migrate back north be sure to clean out your houses and put in new wood chips as many times during the winter starlings or squirrels will make a mess inside greatly reducing the chances of it being used by a hen woody. An often overlooked design feature is access to the inside for cleaning. It is far easier to clean out a house with a front panel that opens from the bottom versus getting inside from the top as most often you will be on a ladder or climbing a tree during this chore.
Here's a video clip of moving day. Ever wonder how these little puff balls get down to the ground? Well they don't fly, they literally fall to the ground and start exploring their new world after taking a bounce. Kind of scary huh? After taking the big leap they are lead to water up to a mile a away by their mother!
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