Wood Duck House Maintenance

If you have wood duck houses on your property, be sure to complete annual maintenance on them before the ducks arrive.

Wood Duck House Maintenance

In my home state of Minnesota, winter has a way of refusing to release its icy grip, but eventually spring prevails. To many people, the sighting of a robin is a signal spring has arrived, but for me, it’s when I spot my first wood duck.

My sons and I maintain two wood duck houses in our backyard (photo above). We have a small river that flows through the neighboring woods, and while our wood duck houses aren’t used every year, we make sure to check them just in case a female wood duck decides to make one of them her home. This spring the river didn’t rise above its banks and flood the woods, which makes our wood duck houses most attractive, but even though it’s currently dry, there’s a chance a wood duck could choose one of our houses.

Spring wood duck house maintenance is an easy task. As shown below, you simply open the side of the house, discard any egg shells or other debris from last year, then replace wood chips. It’s best to place a 4- to 6-inch thick layer of wood chips covering the bottom of the box; the chips provide a cushion for the eggs and also aid in the incubation process by helping with heat retention.

Of all your early spring cleaning chores, maintaining a wood duck house is likely the easiest — and most fun!
Of all your early spring cleaning chores, maintaining a wood duck house is likely the easiest — and most fun!

It’s best to perform this maintenance during late winter, just before wood ducks begin searching for nest sites. Of course, this date changes depending on where you live. Wood duck houses in the southern United States should be checked in late January. In northern states such as Minnesota, the first wood ducks usually return around mid-March.

For more information on wood ducks, check out the Wood Duck Society at www.woodducksociety.com.

Most wood ducks find nesting sites in the holes of trees, but wood duck houses still play an important role. Photos from Wood Duck Society Facebook.
Most wood ducks find nesting sites in the holes of trees, but wood duck houses still play an important role. Photos from Wood Duck Society Facebook.
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