SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa.- The Tweetspeak cluster class took their second trip to Jennings Environmental Center. We set out to look for new migratory species that have just arrived for the breeding season. In addition to seeing numerous new species, we were treated to a new blooming environment, which was extremely different from our trip earlier in the semester. On our first trip to Jennings there was no foliage in the trees. It was very easy to sport and identify some of the bird species. But on our second trip we had trouble physically seeing the birds. However we could identify some by the sounds.
As we walked around Jennings I got excited to see the marsh areas. The last time we were there I saw a few wood duck boxes. Being an avid waterfowl hunter my favorite duck is the wood duck. The color combinations of the males are just truly fascinating. However, I was quickly disappointed when there were no wood ducks in the marsh. During my search though I wondered to myself: What are the purpose of wood duck boxes? How is this beneficial to their survival
After doing some research, I finally got my answers. According to Ducks Unlimited wood duck boxes became popular in the 20th century after wood ducks were on the brink of extinction, due to excessive hunting and habitat loss.
Since wood ducks and other waterfowl such as hooded merganser, and buffleheads are cavity nesters. They often borrow in tree cavities left by woodpeckers or natural cavities. The wood duck boxes were created to help give the species more nesting sites to safely raise their young. The creation of these boxes helped bring the wood duck population to a sustainable level.
As I dove deeper into my research I found out it is not simple as placing out these boxes. For the best success rate boxes must within about 100 yards near wetlands. This allows the nestlings to be able to feed in the swamps. Boxes should be constructed from wood. This allows the ducks to gain grip while entering and exiting the box. If it is made from metal or plastic, it becomes too slippery. Boxes should be placed six feet off the ground, making it difficult for predators to be able to reach them. Also equipping a cone guard around the post makes it very difficult for predators to be able to get into the box
One very important thing about the wood duck boxes is the placement of them near each other. According to the Wood Duck Society they should be placed anywhere from 25 feet to 50 feet apart. This is crucial because of inbreeding. If the boxes are placed too close to one another it can result in genetic mutations and disabilities among the species.
The rising numbers of wood duck boxes have dramatically increased the wood ducks population. Because of individuals who strive to help conservation of birds, ultimately population of the wood duck for generations to come.
A Special Appreciation for the mission and work of the Bartramian Audubon Society
The 2017 Tweetspeak Cluster celebrated Earth Day in April with members of the Bartramian Audubon Society. Students hosted members on a birding adventure around the campus, including the three Audubon-certified bird sanctuaries on campus. Students in the previous edition of Tweetspeak secured those sanctuaries as a service learning project in 2016.
The Tweetspeak students and faculty support the Bartramian Audubon Society’s mission is to preserve the native plant and animal communities in our eco-region through monitoring and protecting vulnerable, rare, and endangered life forms.
Education, direct conservation efforts, research and active participation in citizen science support this mission.
The Bartramian Audubon Society is the chapter of the National Audubon Society serving, Butler, Lawrence, Mercer, and Vengango counties in Pennsylvania.
Find out more and get involved! Follow the group on Facebook!
Bartramian Audubon Society
P.O. Box 315
Slippery Rock, PA 16057