State Fish and Game Officials' Call for Duck Nest Boxes Answered
320 boxes constructed thanks to private business and individual donors
Boy Scout troops, sportsmen, school groups, lumber companies, and conservationists generously answered the call by quickly building nest boxes, donating or discounting lumber, and contributing cash.
"These nesting boxes are critical to the restoration of the wood duck species due to the scarcity of natural tree cavities in nesting areas," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "We're grateful for the generous donations of built boxes, lumber, and funds to help us in our conservation efforts."
On February 10, MassWildlife (a division of the Department of Fish and Game) asked conservationists to help state wildlife officials by providing boxes that the waterfowl use as nests. The birds lack natural cavities like tree holes for nesting. Each winter, MassWildlife biologists repair existing or place new boxes near ponds, marshes and wetlands around the state before the birds return from wintering in warm, southern climes.
By the early 1900s, the wood duck population was nearly wiped out in Massachusetts due to hunting and clear-cutting of forests for agricultural development. The birds came under state protection in 1908 and protected under federal law in 1918 through the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The population began to recover under these protections, and by controlled hunting seasons and restoration of nesting habitat as farms reverted back to forests. A statewide nest box program, which began in 1950s, also helped the ducks thrive.
The statewide population is estimated between 8,000 and 14,000 pairs of birds. Most birds are found in the eastern third of the state, excluding Cape Cod and the Islands, where suitable cavity nesting trees are still uncommon.
MassWildlife maintains more than 1,600 wood duck boxes throughout Massachusetts. As of mid-March, volunteers built and delivered 320 wood duck nest boxes to MassWildlife facilities statewide. More deliveries are expected over the next few weeks.
In addition, cash donations of $820 from 18 donors were sent to the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation. The foundation will use the funds to purchase materials needed for building, placing or replacing nest boxes in suitable habitat across the state. The foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes the preservation of land and water resources and fish and wildlife habitat.
"We established the foundation to supplement the conservation activities of MassWildlife and other conservation organizations in the Commonwealth," said Foundation President Bob Durand. "This project is a great example of one of the ways we can do that."
Several sawmills and lumber companies donated lumber, much of it from locally grown forests. The donations came from Cowls Sawmill of Amherst; Bellingham Lumber of Bellingham; Gurney's Sawmill of Freetown; and Heyes Forest Products of Orange. Delano Sawmill of Dartmouth and Joe's Sawmill in Stoughton offered discounted lumber to interested groups.
The donations received include:
MassWildlife Field Headquarters in Westborough
These boxes came from donations by the Massachusetts State Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and several citizens.
MassWildlife Northeast District Office in Acton
These boxes came from donations by local duck hunters, trappers, and conservationists.
MassWildlife Southeast District Office in Buzzards Bay
The Hanson Rod and Gun Club, the Standish Sportsmen's Association in Bridgewater and a private citizen donated $250 to Regis Bowen of Halifax, who purchased materials and built 35 boxes. Other boxes were donated by Lakeville sportsmen, Dartmouth's Boy Scout Troop 170, the Fin, Fur and Feather Club of Mattapoisett, and the Barnstable Natural Resources Department. A Bridgewater State College student also built boxes for the Bridgewater area.
MassWildlife Central District Office in West Boylston
The boxes were donated by sportsmen. Lancaster and Upton residents donated 150 board feet of rough cut lumber and one Boy Scout is building 15 boxes for the Uxbridge area.
MassWildlife Connecticut Valley District Office in Belchertown
Fifty of the boxes were donated by Amherst's Boy Scout Troop 504 and Cub Pack 515. Sixteen boxes were donated by two individuals.
MassWildlife Western District Office in Pittsfield
The Monument Mountain Middle School's Technical Education Club, Webelos Pack 1 in Lanesborough, and a private citizen donated the boxes. A Lee Sportsmen's Club member donated 250 feet of lumber.