Instead of staying inside and playing video games or watching TV, a group of young people from the Lake Region recently spent the day in the fresh air helping to prepare for the coming of spring and nesting time.
On behalf of the group Tylor Carlson, president of the group, prepared the following report on their project:
On Sunday March 3 the Four Leaf Friends 4-H group went out to Sullys Hill to rehabilitate existing Wood Duck nesting boxes and hen houses used by mallards near the entrance of Sullys Hill. While there, old nesting boxes were checked to see if there were any successful nests from the previous year.
To determine if the nest was successful, they looked for intact membranes from the inner layer of the shell. From that point, they took the old nesting material out and put new material in. About four to five inches of woodchip material was added to the boxes and then each box was closed up.
In the boxes that were opened up, they found evidence of use from the wood duck and the hooded merganser, as well.
A male wood duck has a crested head with metallic green with purple and white markings. The throat is white, the bill is red at the base and the eyes are a bright orange-red. The female wood duck is rather plainly marked and is a grayish-brown duck with a white eye ring. Both have whitish-tipped flight feathers. The wood duck is native only to North America, but in North Dakota this bird breeds mainly along wooded streams and rivers from the Missouri River East to Minnesota. They feed along the banks of wooded streams, lakes and ponds where they find seeds and fruits of trees, shrubs and plants.
The characteristics of the male hooded merganser, in size is similar to the wood duck, and its weight is between 1¼ to 1½ pounds. The merganser is a black and white bird with ruff brown sides. It has a crested head that has a white patch surrounded with black.
The female is mostly brown. A white wing patch is represented in both female and male. This bird breeds along wooded lakes, streams and rivers over much of the United States and Southern Canada. The merganser is also an excellent diver, and with a hooked bill it makes it easier for them to catch fish, their most important food. It also feeds on other water insects and bugs. Unlike the wood duck, the hooded merganser is not known to nest until they are two years old. They both nest in tree cavities or nesting boxes and the insides are made out of pieces of wood, bark or other debris.
The wood duck box rehabilitating was a community service project that the members of 4 Leaf Friends 4 H group chose to focus on for this year. The group marked the boxes with a GPS for future reference location so they can go back to check on egg success in the boxes. A total of 15 wood duck boxes and two hen houses used for mallard nesting were rehabilitated and marked by seven 4H members assisted by five parents.
Page 2 of 2 - The 4 Leaf Friends enjoyed this project and look forward to seeing nesting success in the rehabilitated boxes.