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When should I clean a wood duck box?

Cleaning Wood Duck Boxes

Q: I have been building wood duck boxes to put out in my lake, I have about 15 boxes built and I was wondering when is the best time to start putting them out? Should I wait until after duck season ends, and also when should I clean them out and add new nesting materials? Eric Veillon

A: Thanks for the great and timely question! Ideally, the best time to put up wood duck boxes is right now, before hens return from wintering areas and begin prospecting for nest sites. In southern states wood ducks often begin nesting in February, so it's probably best to have boxes up by late January.

Winter is also a great time to clean out wood duck boxes and put in fresh nesting material. You can also clean out boxes in fall after the nesting season, but visiting them in winter helps ensure there is plenty of nest material and no unwanted occupants (squirrels, mice, etc.) when the hens arrive. If you have time, it's good to clean out wood duck boxes once during the nesting season too. A nesting season visit will show if your boxes are productive and improve the odds of the box being used a second time.

Good luck with your wood duck boxes and thanks for helping out the ducks,

-Matt Chouinard
Delta Waterfowl Biologist

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