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Please check your Wood Duck Boxes and Mallard Hen Nests now

Discussion in 'Minnesota Flyway Forum' started by h2ofwlr, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. h2ofwlr

    h2ofwlr Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    16,755
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    Jun 19, 2001
    Location:
    In the land of 100,000 drained wetlands
    It that time of year again to do the maintenance on the WDBs and MHNs. Often the MHN needs more hay in the top 1/3 and need to be "restuffed". I use a piece of wood lath that is 3/8" x 1.5" x 2' long and use it to poke the hay (in my case I use flax straw - but do NOT use regular grain straw as it'll just blow away - use hay instead.) between the gap in the wire rings. If you can, please use the finer stalked hay, especially for the nest inside as that is what the hen use when nesting in the grasslands. Canary (marsh) grass is too coarse of a stalk for the MHNs, get the upland hay which is finer stalked.
    I use wood shavings that I get at Menards for for the WDB, a big bag is like $5 and has no added oils or scent to it.

    I think that this warm winter weather this year has caught many of us flat footed in S Mn. We never did get a lot of ice thickness to begin with in S MN. With the cold the last few days, if there was still ice, it should be good to walk on for another 2-3 days before the 50s hit again this weekend. (if it was open water already - forget it as it is thin ice). If there was ice yet and refroze hard again, use common sense and an ice spud/chisel to gauge the ice thickness. For me, if 3 hits at the exact same spot and the chisel goes through the ice, I back off as it's too unsafe. Ice thickness can change very quickly, like 6" and 6' further away it's down to 2". So be careful.
    As a safety factor, have a buddy with that stays back 20' and has a 50' rope as a "just for in case". Also have ice picks around your neck to get back out for in case you do fall through. Avoid any moving waters with a current - because if you get swept under the ice - you are a goner.

    The bottom line is for any one in the southern 1/2 of MN is you have only a few days left to check anything over water as 40/50s for this weekend and next week. Also the sun is much higher in the sky and is eating away at the surface of the ice. The guys in the Northern 1/2 likely will have at least a week if not 2 more time yet being much thicker ice up there, towards the Canada border you may have 3 weeks yet of safe ice. Where as those down along the IA border it may be too late already to access many nests due to very poor ice conditions.

    Good luck and be safe.

    We are now getting a LOT more Mergansers in S MN using the WDBs. A friend of mine in the west metro had a 50% Mergie rate the last few years :( Some of the guys are making a smaller hole (3.75" x 2.75" oval) as the Mergies are a bit bigger than the hen Woodies are. Some are placing a cedar board with the smaller hole in front of the existing hole and screwing it into place to help deter the Mergies. In the photos are eggs, Mergies are on the left and Woodies on the right. Mergies are more round, whiter in color and a bit bigger. Woodies are more oval, creamier in color and a tad smaller. Eggs2.jpg
     
  2. h2ofwlr

    h2ofwlr Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
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    Location:
    In the land of 100,000 drained wetlands
    Even with teens the last 2 mornings - open water this afternoon on the north shorelines with the sunshine. :(
    For S MN, by Sunday it'll be really tricky of not damned near plain unsafe for most ponds/sloughs.
    Please be careful if venturing out on the ice.
     
  3. h2ofwlr

    h2ofwlr Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
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    Location:
    In the land of 100,000 drained wetlands
    Mother Nature is a fickle 1 this year.
    Ponds that were wide open a week ago are now froze again.
    Areas that had a bit of ice yet, I was walking on 3-6" Sunday, but what was wide open water a week ago had 3/4 to 2" of ice on Sunday 2 days ago.
    I got at 10 to do maintenance and 7 spots were just was too unsafe on Sunday.

    1 of the benefits being out and about on the ponds, wetlands, etc is seeing unexpected things. I saw a pair of Otters playing on the ice in Orono (Cty 15 and 19 area) Sunday, they had kept open a small hole in the ice of the wetland.

    Here is the dichotomy of this spring. 1st photo there is 6" of ice 50' from the road. 2nd photo is looking to the other side of the road. Yes that is open water out there 100' away with a pair of geese swimming in the distance. It was taken at Sunday around 1PM.

    Combo.jpg

    LM.jpg
     
  4. Scout_mn

    Scout_mn Senior Refuge Member

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    Minnesota
    My 2 wood duck houses had over 12 magies babys come out of them last year. Ill have to fix them
     
  5. h2ofwlr

    h2ofwlr Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
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    Location:
    In the land of 100,000 drained wetlands
    Mergies are a PITA when you want to help raise Woodies. Avoid placing boxes in open areas as Mergies love open areas VS heavily wooded areas.
    And use a smaller hole, instead of a 4" x 3 oval, use a 3.75" x 2.75" oval. The Mergies are a bit bigger so its harder for them to get into the box is a smaller oval.
     
  6. h2ofwlr

    h2ofwlr Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    16,755
    Joined:
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    Location:
    In the land of 100,000 drained wetlands
    Well I am done checking stuff on the ice for the year. I was 4 for 11 today, meaning 7 spots it was very poor ice. Some places this year I tried 2 and even 3 times to get at them after the cold spell. At least I did not fall in this year, but lots of very sketchy ice. About 15-20% of the over water boxes/nests I did not get to do maintenance because the ice was so poor of condition. All those that I did not get at is where there is lots of run off places, namely holding ponds for storm water.
    Those 6 days of 50-60s a month ago really wrecked havoc on the ice.

    Maybe I will put out on land a WDB or 2 yet this spring.


    I have a few (6-8) extra used in good painted condition WDB that I'll give to any one that is willing to install them on land per these guidelines: http://www.woodducksociety.com/bestpractices.htm
    For land sets: You can buy the painted guard and 2 brackets from me for $22, I also have some metal posts for sale too at $1 a foot. The boxes were given to me, so I give them away. I have some short 30" base posts too for land installs. (1 - 30" + 1 - 8' per box). $30 for the guard and posts for 1 set up.
    For over deep (36" or more) water over ice and away from the cattails at least 20', no guard is needed as mammalian predation drops way down in deep water. But 2 posts are needed. $16 for the 2 posts for 1 set up.
    I have 10 - 8' long posts total for sale.
    If you are not willing to abide by the above installation recommendations I just will not give the boxes away, it is simple as that as otherwise there is no useful benefit to the hen Woodies.
    But if you are willing to abide by the installation guidelines that I have laid out above and are interested, PM me. I live in the west metro.
     
  7. h2ofwlr

    h2ofwlr Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    16,755
    Joined:
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    Location:
    In the land of 100,000 drained wetlands
    I still have some boxes and posts for sale if anyone is interested.
     

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