Nest boxes are used by cavity nesting ducks. A cavity nest is a hole formed in a living or dead tree by natural decay or by other wildlife such as the woodpecker. Ducks use these cavities as a safe place to lay eggs (also known as a clutch) and to raise their brood. A brood is the term used for a group of ducklings. A single female can have a clutch comprised of between one and 44 eggs depending on the species of duck. Also, it is quite common for ducks such as the Barrow Goldeneye, Wood duck, and the Common Goldeneye, to lay their eggs in another ducks nest. These nests are called, “dump nests”. So, next time you see a brood of ducklings remember the mother may be a surrogate!
Check out the map below to see where the nest boxes have been installed.
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The purpose of building nest boxes is to increase the amount of places ducks may use to lay their clutches. It’s getting harder for them to find lodgings due to forests being cut down for subdivision and other developments. Nest boxes are also are easier to monitor, naturally formed cavities aren’t always as strong as the sturdy cedar being used and the safeguards put in place protect the broods against predator attacks.
Types of cavity nesting ducks
Barrow’s Goldeneye: One of the longest-living ducks in North America. The oldest Barrow’s Goldeneye on record reached the age of 18.
Common Goldeneye: The Common Goldeneye is one of the last ducks to migrate south during the winter. The female Goldeneye often lays her eggs in another duck’s nest rather than her own.
Bufflehead: The smallest living duck in North America, the Bufflehead is one of the most popular ducks among bird-watchers.
Common Merganser: The Merganser’s long, thin bill contains toothy projections that help it hang on to its prey. While the mother protects her brood, she will not feed them – the ducklings are left to hunt for their own food.
Hooded Merganser: The Hooded Merganser is one of the few ducks that seeks out its prey underwater using its eye-sight.
Wood Duck: With its colourful plumage, it is considered by many to be the most beautiful of all waterfowl.
Nest box design
Important Features of the Nest Box
Cedar is used due to its resistance to weather and insects.
• The wood isn’t finished to avoid harming the eggs and ducks.
• “Kerf cuts” are grooves cut into the wood and act as steps for the ducklings to get out of the box.
• 6 inches of wood shavings are placed in the box to help incubate the eggs and stop the eggs from moving around in the box.
• Holes have been drilled in the bottom of the box to release moisture.
Nest Box Placement
Nest Boxes will be placed at the shoreline and up to 150 metres away. Steel poles, dead and live trees will be used to install the boxes four to 6 feet above the water or ground.
Nest boxes must be cleaned out in the fall or winter, repaired and filled with fresh wood chips on a regular basis. When ducks find a good place to nest they will return the following year, maintenance is a must!
By mail: 350 Michael Cowpland Drive Kanata, Ontario K2M 2W1
By telephone: 24 hours a day — 7 days a week: 1-800-563-9453; OR (613) 599-9594 (Ottawa area) Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm EST