(Note: The following is a submission by Rene Kronlage, a freshman at UNC – Chapel Hill, as part of her effort to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award (Troop 729) with assistance from Dismal Swamp State Park. To complement the project, Kronlage established a website and a Facebook page.)
Hello, my name is Rene Kronlage and I just completed a project for a Girl Scout Gold Award. I constructed wood duck houses and placed them along the trail that runs right along the Dismal Swamp.
Wood ducks, scientifically known as Aix Sponsa, prefer to live in swampy areas, which is why the Great Dismal Swamp is home to so many of them. Wood ducks are considered cavity nesters, living in holes in trees or manmade wood duck houses near or above water. Natural cavities suited for wood ducks are infrequent and wood ducks do not have the capabilities to create their own cavities for nesting. Therefore, it is very helpful to this waterfowl species when manmade duck houses are available to them.
Wood ducks also can’t add their own bedding to their nests, so it is important to put wood shavings about four inches deep in a wood duck house. Predator guards, such as sheet metal cones, placed around the tree below the wood duck box are also vital.
Overall, my project took more than 80 hours to complete. I had to get a lot of supplies donated. My local Lowe’s and Builder’s Discounters Center helped me with that and I was able to obtain all the supplies I needed. I also built a small sign that I placed in front of one of my wood duck houses. I had younger girl scouts help me put up my houses so I could share my knowledge of the species and teach them the importance of earning their own Gold Award.