An ideal duck habitat will provide the quackers with a safe stopover location while migrating or provide nesting opportunities for pairs that wish to reside in the area during the spring and summer. Consider constructing a habitat using a pond of at least one acre. The pond should have plenty of vegetation and, preferably, two or three small islands to serve as nesting locations for ducks. Some species, such as wood ducks, will use man-made boxes for their nests. The pond should have areas of shallow water no deeper than 2-and-1/2 feet.
Things You'll Need
- Japanese millet
- White proso millet
- Trees, such as oaks, sweetgums or maples
- Aquatic plants
- Nest boxes
- Sheet metal
- Straw or sawdust
Slope one or more sides of the pond, to a grade of no steeper than 20 percent, so the ducks can easily traverse them.
Plant Japanese millet in the mud flats around the pond to provide food. Buckwheat, white proso millet, and sorghum also provide a valuable food source. Plant in the early spring or fall. When plants are mature, consider allowing the pond to flood in order to disperse the seeds.
Encourage or plant aquatic vegetation, such as duckweed, wild rice, pond weed and water lilies to provide food for the ducks.
Place floating logs in the pond for the ducks to clamber on. The ducks also appreciate rock piles, where they can climb to sun themselves.
Plant sweetgum, oak, and maples around the perimeter of the pond. Foraging wood ducks often leave the water to feed on acorns, nuts, and seeds.
Place one or two wood duck nest boxes around the perimeter of the pond. Locate the boxes approximately 25 feet above the ground and 30 feet from the shoreline, or three to four feet above the water's surface near the pond's perimeter. Make sure each box has a predator guard installed. If they do not, wrap sheet metal around the pole of the nest box to discourage raccoons and other predators from climbing the pole to raid the nest.
Line the nest box with clean sawdust or straw. Provide at least a three-inch layer.
Maintain the natural foliage and aquatic plants around the pond's perimeter at a height of at least one foot to provide nesting shelter and protection.
Tips & Warnings
- Consider mowing wild vegetation, such as cattails, in June or July. Wait one month and mow again. Cattails can become extremely aggressive and require control.
- The young wood duck can jump from a nest box that is located 290 feet above the ground without sustaining injury.
- Never use toxic chemicals or herbicides not approved for aquatic use near a duck pond.
- Virginia Cooperative Extension; Management of Wood Ducks on Private Lands and Waters; Peter T. Bromley, et al. May 2009
- Wyoming Fish and Game Department; Duck Habitat Needs and Developement; Richard Greer
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; Wood Duck
- Oregon State University; Wood Duck; Z. Turnbull, et al; April 2007
- A Bird's Home: Wood Duck Habitat Requirements
- Seedland: Food Plots For Ducks
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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