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Mount your wood duck house on a single pole!

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I'd like to encourage people to mount their wood duck houses on individual poles with predator guards. It gives you multiple advantages - less predation, easier maintenance, longer life span of your houses, and the opportunity to easily check on your houses during the nesting season.

I have about 30 wood duck houses spread on my property, four of the original ones up in trees, eight on a 'wood duck condo' (two posts with cross pieces and predator guards), and the rest on individual poles. The other day I was walking around checking them, seeing how many have nests. The ones on individual poles were easy, walk up, put your hand over the entry hole so the hen doesn't flush, open the door slowly, if shes on the nest, shut the door, otherwise count the eggs. On the houses in the trees, you can walk by and see if they're in use by the fluff feathers that are coming thru the cracks. As I was checking, and the reason for this post, is that I found that one of the tree mounted houses had been predated, egg shells were on the ground, the entry hole and side door had been chewed on, and the coon had been able to get the door open during its chewing. Right then and there I decided that next spring all the tree mounted houses are coming down! I've never had a coon get around the predator guard on a pole mounted house!!

One big advantage of the pole mounted houses are that you don't have to carry a ladder around to check your houses during spring cleaning. As I get older I really appreciate that. Along with this easier access is that fact that you can easily check houses during the nesting season. Kids and friends love seeing the eggs and its gratifying to me to see all the hard work payoff!

I've also found that the tree mounted houses don't last as long. Some of the first ones that I put up about 6 years ago are starting to come loose, the tree keeps on growing and pull the nails right thru. The houses are still ok, but they're falling off. We've all seen wood duck house along lakes that are falling off the trees. I expect the green treated pole mounted houses to last 20+ years.

I'd strongly encourage people to try the pole mounted wood duck houses. The ease of use and higher success rates far outweigh the additional cost of the pole and predator guards.

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I have been putting up 100 wood duck houses every year for ten years now and every one of them is mounted on a tree. The success rate is about 60% usage. Digging a hole and putting in a green treated 4 by 4 would not only take forever but would be quite expensive. But to each his own.

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NHARDY, I'n not saying that houses on trees won't hatch ducks. Putting houses on trees has helped the wood duck revival. I'm just saying that theres a newer, better way that enures 100% protection of the hen and eggs once they start using the wood box on a pole. And if you use the pole you have the added benefit of easy access (no ladder to drag around and climb) and longer life of the house because the tree is not going to 'push it off' as it grows. How long do your houses stay up in a tree before you have to do some maintenence? I think most people put up there 2-3 houses and then forget about them. For a small number of houses, the added expense will not be that much and will ensure that their house is still usable 10-15 years from now.

Yes, using a green treated pole and predator guard is more expensive but to me the price is worth it because then I won't be going thru the woods looking at my wood duck houses in trees, seeing the teeth marks around the hole, and wondering if I'm creating a death trap for wood duck hens.
And it actualy doesn't cost that much. I use the green treated landscaping timbers that are flat on two sides, the big ones so they last longer, they run about $3 on sale. For the predator guard, I use the 15 gallon barrels that dairy farmers and businesses get soap in, cut the end with the bung off, then make a hole on the other just big enough to slide it over the post. Put two lags screws into the post about three feet up, slide the barrel over the post, predators can't get around the guard because its slippery and swings. I've never had a coon get around one yet. If you don't like the white color, paint is cheap, slap some on. You've already spent $15-20 on cedar lumber, for $3 more you can make your wood duck houses coon proof and easily accessable for years to come.

[This message has been edited by BLACKJACK (edited 05-25-2004).]

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Black Jack,
I applaud your efforts to bring back the woodies. I love those gaudy little things!
Question for ya. Have you ever had more than 1 hen use a box?
I did a study in college on this trend and we called it "dump nesting". In areas where there were several nest boxes with in say 50 yards of each other, more that one hen would lay eggs in the boxes. This would drastically reduce the nesting success. We found some boxes with as many as 50 eggs in them and over 75% of them were unhatched.
Just curious about this

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fishn5, yes I've seen dump nests. Early in the season, before the hens start setting, I'll make the rounds and check some of the houses around my house, counting the eggs. I've seen them increase 2-3 a day, meaning more than one hen is laying eggs in them. Ususally it doesn't seem to be a problem, eventually one hen will claim the nest. For instance several years ago, one dump nest had 22 egs in it, a hen claimed it, and hatched out 18 ducklings. Quite a sight to see them following ma duck! I've also seen mixed batches of mergansers and wood ducks, as they swim along the ducks feed on the surface while the little mergansers dive - kind of cute!

My conclusion is that dump nests aren't a problem, I've never found boxes with more than 3-4 unhatched eggs. I also have excess housing, more wood wood duck boxes than what they can use, so when one hen claims the dump box, the other hens have other boxes to go start their own nest again. If housing was hard to find, I could see where hens would keep laying while the claiming hen is off feeding.

Do you happen to know what the incubation time for wood ducks is? 21 days? 28 days?

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