Housing appeal for wood ducks in Massachusetts
There is a wildlife housing need in Massachusetts that conservationists of all kinds can support! The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is welcoming donations of constructed wood duck boxes or lumber for building boxes. Wood ducks are one of the few kinds of waterfowl (ducks and geese) that nest in cavities or holes in trees. There are not enough natural cavities available in the state for nesting, but constructed boxes have filled the gap. While wood ducks are wintering in warm, southern climes, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) biologists and technicians will soon be braving chilly winter temperatures on icy ponds, marshes, and other wetlands evaluating the condition of wood duck boxes and replacing boxes that are missing or in disrepair. "Wood duck hens will return to the same box to nest year after year," said H Heusmann, DFW Waterfowl Project Leader. "Imagine the plight of a wood duck hen coming back from wintering down south and finding her nesting site gone."
Heusmann noted that in 2009 when an appeal for wood duck boxes went out, the public response was gratifying. Within a month, of the call for wood duck nest boxes sportsmen, Boy Scouts, school groups, and other individual conservationists built and donated over 200 boxes, or the lumber to make wood duck boxes. This filled the immediate need for 2009 and was a very helpful boost for the 2010 season. Wood duck box plans are posted on the Division's website at: www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/wildlife/facts/birds/waterfowl/wood_duck_box.htm. Heusmann points out that these specific plans should be used as the design makes it simple to swap out parts and to place the boxes. Duck boxes need to be constructed with rough-cut pine, making the box easy to transport, and allowing newly-hatched ducklings a more secure foothold as they scramble up and out of the box for their first swim. Completed wood duck boxes can be dropped off at any of the five district offices located in Pittsfield, Belchertown, West Boylston, Acton, and Bourne, or the DFW Field Headquarters in Westborough during business days and hours. Depending on the weather, the window of opportunity for safe, strong ice to put up new boxes closes by late February, therefore, box delivery by early February would be ideal for this year's need. Unused boxes will be kept in storage and used in the following season.
For those interested conservationists don't have the time or ability to build a box but want to support this project, the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is also partnering with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in this appeal by accepting donations of money and materials that will go directly toward wood duck nest box construction. Mail a check to P. O. Box 47, Westborough, MA, 01581or pay through the Foundation's website at www.massoutdoorheritage.org. Gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible.
For more information about this project, see the Great Outdoors Blog on wood duck placement written last winter at: http://environment.blog.state.ma.us/blog/2011/01/field-report-duck-boxes-on-ice-needs-photo.htmlor contact H Heusmann at (508) 389-6321.