With spring on the horizon, Winnipeggers are on the lookout for the long-awaited signs in nature that offer a promise of warmth, colour and life. The migratory return of the wood duck is perhaps the most lively and colourful sign of all. Wood ducks are cavity nesters, making their nests in the cavities of hollow trees near water.
At the turn of the century, wood duck populations across North America were critically low as a result of overhunting and clearing of the mature forests that they call home. This wide spread habitat destruction was further exacerbated by the selective removal of dead and dying trees that most likely offered nesting cavities. To re-establish our wood duck population, FortWhyte launched the Winnipeg Wood Duck Project in the early 1970’s, resulting in the deployment of over 100 nest boxes along our city’s waterways.
In springs past, you may have noticed our dedicated FortWhyte volunteers climbing a ladder against a tree in a neighbour’s yard, preparing another nest box for its new tenants. Watch for them again this spring as we continue our ambitious nest box campaign. Since female wood ducks return faithfully to nest in the area where they themselves were raised, you will notice a marked increase in their numbers in just two to three years!
If you are a riverbank resident and would like to enhance your backyard habitat for this unique wildlife viewing opportunity, become a FortWhyte Alive Wood Duck Naturescape Member. A FortWhyte volunteer will come to your home to install a duck box to encourage nesting and help maintain the Wood Duck population in Manitoba! If you are interested in becoming a Wood Duck Watcher, sign up for membership today. Please register by Wednesday, March 18th to ensure your best chances for attracting wood ducks this spring.
Click here to join the wood duck program today. By supporting the Wood Duck Project, not only are you increasing biodiversity within Winnipeg, but you are also supporting environmental education in your community!
If you're interested in learning more about wood ducks, FortWhyte Alive is holding an information session 'The Way of the Wood Duck' on Sunday, March 15th at 1pm. The session is free with regular admission, if you are not already a member.
Spring is coming and so are the wood ducks!