St. Mary Parish Ducks Unlimited provides nesting boxes for ducks
By PRESTON GILL
A half-dozen people cruised the Lower Atchafalaya River earlier this month to view and inspect wood duck nesting boxes placed at the end of February. Included in the group was Glenn Conrad, whose family foundation has contributed to the project.
“With the generous assistance of the Conrad Family Foundation, the Patterson chapter of Ducks Unlimited was able to purchase and install 25 wood duck boxes … from the Calumet Locks to the Berwick Locks. Each box is numbered and labeled with a Patterson Ducks Unlimited sticker,” chapter chairman Jennifer Thibodaux said.
As the 26-foot bay boat planed over the river at about 40 mph, Conrad praised the work that the chapter is doing in trying to attract wood ducks and give them a safe place to hatch their brood.
“Hopefully, more people might be able to do something like this,” Conrad said. “This should really help with the wood duck population.”
After putting out the first five boxes, “some chapter members checked on them and within two weeks three boxes were being used by female wood ducks and one of the boxes already had eggs in it,” Thibodaux said. “We counted 14 eggs.”
The last of the first five boxes came with a bit of a price in sweat and blood, mostly paid by Thibodaux’s husband Micah, she said.
As Marc Felterman throttled back on the 300 horsepower Mercury outboard, the boat slowed down. Thibodaux pointed to where her husband cut his head on the fifth box just as he was finishing installing the box on the 16-foot, 2-by-4-inch board driven into the river mud a few yards from the bank.
Below each of the boxes are predator guards to help keep away snakes and each is placed in the river and away from trees so raccoons do not disturb them.
The wood ducks use the boxes from January to March and other birds and even other ducks occupy the boxes when the wood ducks leave, Thibodaux said.
The idea to create a secure nesting box for wood ducks had its genesis in the spring of 2004, at the chapter’s Greenwing Day at Kemper Williams Park when five wood duck boxes were built and donated to the park, Thibodaux said. A few years later, 12 wood duck boxes were built and donated to the Atchafalaya Golf Course at Idlewild in Patterson before the clubhouse was built and were installed throughout the ponds on the course, she added.
“Implementing a Wood Duck Box Program in the Bayou Teche seemed like the perfect fit for our chapter,” Thibodaux said. “Providing nesting habitat for wood ducks in our area goes right along with Ducks Unlimited providing land up north in the Dakotas for nesting habitat there. We feel like it’s a win/win situation for both the ducks and our chapter.”
The chapter plans to put out more duck boxes and is considering ways that the project can be continued. It plans on installing more in the Lower Atchafalaya River and eventually around the Wilson Landing area.
“We are still trying to decide how to do this,” Thibodaux said. “Perhaps, people can purchase boxes in memory of someone or maybe as a sponsor.”
Thibodaux said that the details will be worked out in time to present the idea at the chapter’s upcoming banquet Aug. 2.
The local chapter is selling raffle tickets for a couple of rifles and a cooler. Those funds are expected to be used to procure and place more boxes. The winners will be drawn at the banquet. Thibodaux said there will also be the introduction of another program to help fund the wood duck box program.
“Once we get so many sold, probably 10, we will build them and put them out,” Thibodaux said.
The 29th annual Patterson chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be held Aug. 2 at the Patterson Area Civic Center. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The banquet is expected to last until about 10 p.m.
Admission prices are $40 for single; $70 for couple; $15 for Greenwing (children to 17); $300 for individual sponsorship; or $500 for corporate sponsorship.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance online at www.la.ducks.org.
There will be food, drinks, live and silent auctions, lots of raffles including guns, a sportsman package with pirogue and additional hunting supplies.