Duck Nest Boxes at White Memorial

The White Memorial Foundation has been involved with the restoration and management of Wood Ducks ever since the 1930's when their population was at a perilously low level nation-wide. WMF land was used by the CT. Board of Fisheries and Game and the Ripley Waterfowl Trust to raise Wood Ducks in a semi-captive situation at Duck Pond and a couple of other locations on the Property. At that time it was called the Litchfield/Morris Game and Bird Sanctuary. Artificial nest boxes were an integral part of this restoration effort. As time marched on, the successful captive breeding effort was abandoned in favor of the provision of nest boxes in suitable habitat. For a long time it was believed that the boxes would be more successful if they were over water. Consequently, that's where most of the boxes in White Memorial's ponds and wetlands ended up. The ducks would use them in the spring, and we'd check them and gather data from them in the late summer, fall, or winter. That worked well until about 5 years ago, when it became evident that these bodies of water were holding water for much longer than they used to, and ice wasn't as thick as it used to be in the winter. We also noticed that flooding of the nest boxes was becoming increasingly common even though most of them are mounted on poles that are sunk 8 to 10 feet deep in the water. This has led to an increased number of nest failures. This increased risk to the ducks and the people who monitor them has prompted us to adjust the management strategy so that boxes and their poles are being re-located from the water to adjacent land. The boxes that have already been moved onto land have proven to be very successful in fledging young birds. All of the boxes are protected from climbing predators by a 3' length of 6" PVC pipe surrounding the pole immediately under the box. The boxes are made of 1" thick white pine lumber, with the seams between the back and sides and the top and sides being caulked. This makes them quite secure, and leads to a high level of success. We anticipate even more success once we eliminate the flooding issue by moving the rest of the boxes to higher ground. Meanwhile, visitors to the Property may notice some vacant poles while the boxes are down for refurbishment and relocation. Fortunately, we have a college intern, Scott Dayton, who is spear-heading this effort. We could always use more help, though, so if you would like to help, please contact us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed watching the video clip Gerri made of you and Scott working on the nest boxes. The comparisons between the Wood Duck egg and Hooded Merganser egg with the fact that they can sometimes use the same box is both helpful and interesting.
Marie K