Spring started early this year for wood ducks in the Parkers Creek watershed, with the first egg laid on February 23rd. According to local wood duck box monitors, affectionately known as “duckers”, this is the first egg of the season recorded in the county. For years, ACLT has participated in the Maryland Wood Duck Box Initiative with the Calvert County Natural Resources Division and private citizens to install and check wood duck nesting boxes in order to provide habitat and monitor populations around Calvert’s waterways. The program relies on dedicated volunteers who regularly make observations and collect data, such as number of eggs laid and hatchling success, from over 50 nest boxes at seven sites.
One of ACLT’s wood duck box project coordinators, Bob Field, reports that there are currently hens sitting on eggs in four of our 15 nest boxes, including one on Parkers Creek. This is exciting news for everyone involved with the project. Last season was the first time any of the boxes located on Parkers Creek were used, so seeing one of these hens return to nest there is a good sign.
The clutch sizes for ACLT’s nesting boxes currently range from 10-13 eggs, which is average for wood ducks whose clutches usually range anywhere in size from 6 to 16 eggs. Nesting boxes located in the Horse Swamp have historically been the most productive at ACLT, with some boxes having two clutches by different hens. Last year ACLT saw a 100% hatch rate for 37 eggs, which is the highest among recorded sites in the county. Although nesting boxes at ACLT tend to be underutilized, occupied boxes have been generally very successful with high hatch rates season after season.
This year has gotten off to a great start for both the wood ducks and all of us who appreciate them at ACLT. Thanks to our membership and volunteers, we provide habitat and monitoring for wood ducks in the Parkers Creek watershed. Stay tuned for more updates on ACLT’s wood ducks and our part in the Maryland Wood Duck Box Initiative.