Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Building for Wood Ducks at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge's Swamp Saturdays
Midwest Region, January 19, 2013
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Two participants showing off their finished wood duck house.
Two participants showing off their finished wood duck house. - Photo Credit: Peter Rea US FWS

The wood duck is considered by many to be one of the most strikingly beautiful creatures in nature. Mingo National Wildlife Refuge's bottomland hardwood forest and marsh habitat provide ideal habitat for visitors to get the opportunity to see these stunning creatures. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s this wasn’t the case. Due to westward expansion and the booming railroad industry, there was an ever growing need for lumber. The T.J. Moss Tie Company first approached the swamp because of its extensive old growth forests. By 1888, T.J. Moss was the largest tie contractor in the state, and many of their ties were cut from trees taken from the Mingo Basin. By 1915, most of the trees in the Mingo Basin were gone.


This over-harvesting of Mingo’s old-growth forest had a tremendous impact on the wildlife of the swamp, including the wood duck. Wood ducks require old-growth forests with plenty of tree cavities for nesting. With the removal of these trees, their nesting habitat was destroyed and the wood duck became a rare sight within the Mingo Basin.

When Mingo National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1944 the refuge began taking measures to restore the wood duck population. One of the conservation efforts made was the initiation of a wood duck nesting box program. The refuge built and maintained artificial nesting box houses that mimicked the natural tree cavities found in old-growth forests. The initiation of wood duck house programs at Mingo Refuge and other conservation areas was a huge reason for the population rebound of this beautiful duck species.

On Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 Mingo National Wildlife Refuge continued this conservation effort for wood ducks by offering a Swamp Saturday Program on Wood Ducks. During the program, 12 participants came to the refuge to learn about wood ducks. Following a brief presentation discussing the biology and life history of wood ducks, the participants were then able to construct wood duck houses for the refuge.

In total, 12 new wood duck houses were built during the two-hour program. The participants’ efforts helped tremendously in continuing the wood duck house program on the refuge. On top of that, all participants were given wood duck house instructions so they can continue conservation efforts on other land. Overall, the program was a great way to celebrate this conservation success story.

Contact Info: Peter Rea, 573-222-3589, peter_rea@fws.gov
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