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Volunteers make Wood ducks feel welcome

BARRINGTON – Wood ducks in the Barrington area are about to find themselves some newly built “homes.”

Volunteers with Barrington Ducks Unlimited and from within the community will build 20 conservation boxes and install them in the Cook County Forest Preserve, south of Penny Road and north of Higgins Road. The project is being done in collaboration with the Cook County Forest Preserve.

The idea to create the boxes started with Bryan Muche, a member of Barrington Ducks Unlimited. Over the years, he has often witnessed wood ducks nesting on his property in hollowed out trees and other crevices, but those areas are highly susceptible to predators. Every year, he would find evidence of predators reaching the wood ducks. So, on his own property, he installed boxes, which protected the ducks from predators.

“We’re doing this to improve the local duck population,” said Gary Peterson, a committee member and volunteer with Barrington Ducks Unlimited.

Ducks Unlimited is the world's leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. It was created in 1937 during the Dust Bowl when North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations fell to unprecedented lows. The organization is focused on preservation of wetlands and waterfowl habitats.

“The main focus of Ducks Unlimited is preserving the habitat of ducks and other waterfowl, which also benefits other animals,” Peterson said.

This is the first time the Barrington organization has tackled conservation boxes, and builders will follow instructions provided by Ducks Unlimited. Peterson said the conservation, or nesting, boxes look like giant birdhouses. They stand about two-feet tall, with a hole in the top. The boxes are filled with nesting materials and the inside also has an abrasive surface so the ducklings can climb out after they hatch.

“Part of being Ducks Unlimited is we want to make an impact on the environment and this is something we can do locally,” Peterson said.

Muche said the project is really about trying to connect the community with nature.

“My thought for this was to get people involved in something conservation minded,” Muche said.

Each nesting site will cost $62 and will be funded by donations and installed by volunteers. The boxes will be built on April 5 and installed on April 6. Anyone interested in donating funds or volunteering their time to help can contact Muche at (608) 295-7755.

As part of the nesting site, each structure will include a predator baffle to keep predators from getting into the boxes.

“I would look at this as a way to sustain the population through some tough times,” Peterson said.

Mark Spreyer, executive director of Stillman Nature Center in South Barrington, said wood ducks are very common to the area. In fact, in previous years, area organizations and groups have installed nesting boxes on Stillman’s property. He has watched the population increase over the years.

“If you don’t have dead trees and you can mimic it with a box, that’s great,” he said of the nesting boxes.

Peterson noted that once volunteers install these boxes in the forest preserve, they will become permanent structures. Volunteers will visit yearly to clean the boxes, repair any damage and prepare them for a new group of ducks.

Nesting season begins in April.

“We want to give (wood ducks) a place where they feel secure in nesting,” Peterson said.

For more information:


A Barrington Ducks Unlimited fundraiser, the 2014 Fun Shoot, will be held May 9 at the Northbrook Sportsmans Club in Hainesville.
 Funds raised by the Barrington organization are sent to the national organization, which puts them toward conservation projects.

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