text by Roman Phillips
wood duck photos by Roman Phillips
Eagle Scout projects require lots of planning. My planning began by researching Wood Ducks. Not only did I study wood duck box blueprints, but I also read about nesting seasons.
Wood ducks are cavity nesters. Living in hollowed out trees in the forest preferably near bodies of water, Wood ducks have no way to hollow out cavities so they must be pre-existing. With the destruction of forests by humans from expansion, Wood Ducks have lost many of their natural habitats. Many large lakes in our area were created by power companies for electricity purposes. When created, these areas were very rural, but humans also enjoy living near water. As a result, those newer habitats created by the damming of local rivers were rapidly converted to human residential areas also.
While studying about wood ducks, I have also learned they are extremely skittish. Wood ducks do not like humans close by. When they are approached by humans, they will immediately fly or swim away.
To further understand my wood duck research, I contacted the experts. I reached out to Ducks Unlimited. After connecting with their biologist, Ms. Purcell, I was connected to wildlife biologist Molly Kneece at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). Ms. Kneece provided me with valuable information regarding Wood Ducks.
Ms. Kneece is one of the few people allowed to band ducks and had to have more than 400 bandings with a certified bander before she could be certified. She has years of experience working with ducks. One day soon, I hope to join her on a wood duck banding.
While working on this project, I have learned much about wood ducks. Although it is difficult to take good pictures because the ducks are very skittish, I took as many pictures as I could. I share these photos on a Facebook page that I created for this project, Baxter Ducks. I have learned this is the easiest way to share the information I have collected.
Ms. Kneece advised me to clean out the Wood Duck boxes after the first clutches hatch because many ducks return for a second clutch of eggs. Amazingly, my customers returned for a second stay! I’m looking forward to cleaning out the wood duck boxes for the next nesting season.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.