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Instructions for Building a Wood Duck House

Updated on June 29, 2013

Wood Duck Picture

Wood duck are one of the most brilliantly colored birds in North America.
Wood duck are one of the most brilliantly colored birds in North America. | Source

Video Of Wood Ducks Swimming

What Is A Wood Duck

Wood Ducks are one of the most beautiful of all waterfowl, or any fowl for that matter. Their distinctive markings and whistling call make them a favorite for bird watchers of all variety. These birds were once on the decline but recent efforts have gone a long way toward helping this bird recover. Because they like to nest in hollow tree cavities wood ducks take readily to nest boxes, an important factor in recovery efforts. Believe it or not it is possible to attract wood ducks to your property. A properly built nesting box and the right conditions are all it takes.

It's hard to say exactly what color a wood duck is since it has so many different shades, hues and patterns. The males however are distinctive for their iridescent green heads, White pin striping, speckled rusty colored chest and grey sides. Females are less brilliant but are still quite beautiful with elegant white pin striping similar to the males. Wood ducks like woody swamps, lakes and rivers where they can nest in tree cavities. They are uniquely adapted among the duck species for living in trees. Their webbed feet are equipped with grasping claws for perching on branches and clinging to tree trunks.

For starters you will need to live on or very near a wooded and slow moving body of water. The area around where I live in Asheville, NC has many wood ducks living alongside our slower moving streams. Where my parents live, in eastern NC near the Great Dismal Swamp, wood ducks are much more common. My parents have a small pocosin, or "lake on a hill" in their back yard where wood ducks, snapping turtles and water moccasins are all very common.

Wood Duck Boxes In Eastern NC

Wood duck boxes are merely over sized versions of a standard nesting box built to resemble natural tree cavaties.
Wood duck boxes are merely over sized versions of a standard nesting box built to resemble natural tree cavaties. | Source

All About Wood Ducks

Wood Ducks can be found throughout most of North America, at least at one time of year or another. The only places you really can not find a wood duck will be in northern Canada and through much of the mid west. Wood ducks are year round residents all along the eastern part of the U.S., some move south into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico during the winter. In summer migratory birds may move north into the lower parts of Canada.

Wood Ducks are similar to a few other species of ducks but are easy to distinguish. the crested head and boxy shape are the first clues. They also have a long skinny neck that appears to bob when in flight or swimming. Wood ducks can also be found perching in trees or flying through wooded areas. Their short, broad wings make them highly maneuverable. They may form small flocks, ranging from 5-20 birds, and they may keep themselves apart from other ducks and birds. Mallards and green-winged teal are the closest matches to wood ducks but the mallard lacks the distinctive white piping while the teal is a different shape altogether and also lacks the white striping. Sometimes mandarin ducks may also be confused but these are not a naturally occurring species.

Creating Wood Duck Habitat

You can create wood duck habitat. Many people have already created their own lakes, ponds, swamps and wet lands just for this purpose. Usually this isbeing done by hunters and/or wild life conservationist organizations and often times done together. Water fowl conservation is a big deal and an important factor in the life cycle of North American ducks and geese. In order to attract wood ducks to any man made body of water simply remember to keep some trees near by for them to roost in.

How To Build A Wood Duck House

Wood duck houses are easy to build and are a great way to re-use, re-purpose or recycle old lumber. I like to build wood duck boxes and other bird houses from old shipping pallets. If you are picky, and only choose HT stamped pallets, you can find some really great material. The important thing is to make sure that whatever wood you choose is clean, free of debris and is not painted, stained or otherwise treated. All natural wood is the best for this and any other project. Once you have your material the next most important thing is the dimensions.

A wood duck house is just an oversized version of a regular bird house. For best results I recommend a house that is approximately 10 1/2 inches square with sides that are about 24 inches tall. The size of the box is crucial but can be a little smaller or larger than what I have stated here. The really important dimension is the size of the hole. You want to make it big enough for a duck to get through but not big enough for a racoon or possum as these critters may eat your duck eggs. The hole should be about 18-20 inches off the bottom of the box and be oval in shape. The hole should be about 4" wide by 3" tall.

After the house is finished the final step is choosing a location. Wood duck houses can be put on top of a fence post, tied to the side of a tree or perched atop a pole stuck in the ground for that purpose. The box should be in or very near to water and amongst trees and shrubs.

NC Home To Wood Ducks

The Great Dismal Swamp:
Great Dismal Swamp, South Mills, NC 27976, USA

get directions

Historic and current location of natural wetland swamps and home to numerous species of waterfowl, fish, reptiles, insects, amphibians and mammals.

Pocosin lakes wildlife refuge:
Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Currituck, NC, USA

get directions

Home of natural pocosin lakes and the number one place to see black bears on the east coast.

Asheville, NC:
Asheville, NC, USA

get directions

Slow moving mountain rivers, lakes and natural wet lands are also home to wood ducks and other species of migratory waterfowl.

Duck Commander Wood Duck Sitting Calls


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    • TMHughes profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      That's too bad . They are so pretty!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      There are Wood Duck Houses at the lake, but I have not seen any. People that I knew back in DE used to raise them, which is difficult to do in captivity.


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