One warm fall afternoon last week found Ken Brown out on his driveway painting duck nesting boxes which he’ll eventually mount near his home in Norglenwold and at other locations around the lake.
Brown, a member of three different fish and game clubs, got the original pattern from a fellow member of the Sarcee club in Calgary — Bryce Chase.
Since then he’s been building the boxes from scrap lumber and situating them where they are available for goldeneye ducks, those which normally nest in cavities in dead trees.
With the number of acreages increasing and homeowners cleaning out deadfall, places for the birds to nest are declining. “So we’re helping them out,” said Brown.
A cavity nesting box on the lakeside of his property has had the same pair of birds nesting in it for the last four years. He said it’s amazing to watch them come flying full speed ahead into the box and yet amazingly stop before they hit the back wall.
Brown said the 15 boxes he made this season, and was painting last week, will be attached to trees where they’re visible from a large body of water (a slough or lake) and high enough to keep predators away — about 6-7 feet high. “The closer to the water the better.” He added they’re also placed a fair distance apart so the birds don’t squabble.
He uses 3/4 inch plywood, because it lasts longer, and then paints the boxes to protect them from weather and lengthen their life. The box on his property has been there for more than nine years. (He doesn’t use treated wood.)
Once painted with a gray colour, they’ll be stencilled indicating they’re from Sylvan Lake Fish and Game Association, of which Brown is treasurer. The paint he uses is usually purchased cheaply from paint stores where they’ve mixed a wrong colour. By pouring six or eight cans together he ends of with gray.
Looking after the boxes is fairly easy, said Brown. Wood chips are added at the beginning of the season by removing a panel on the side of the box. Then at the end of the season the box is cleaned out of any eggs that may not have hatched.
Sometimes, he said, there are several duck eggs in the boxes simultaneously.
Brown said he’s an avid supporter of the work of fish and game associations. He’s a member of the Sarcee club, also the organizations in Sylvan Lake and Red Deer. After painting last week, he was committed to help the Red Deer club with their casino fundraiser.
Then his next project is to build some bat boxes.