Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Figure 5. Double compartment wood nest boxes offer an additional opportunity to attract two nesting hens to a single location, thus doubling wood duck production potentials.
To further assist ducklings in making their escape, a hardware cloth ladder must be attached to the interior of the box beneath each entrance hole to provide an additional climbing surface (Figure 6). Redwood and cedar are considered best, but fir and pine are satisfactory as long as they are not full of knotholes and cracks. The outside of nest boxes may be painted, stained or treated with a non-toxic wood preservative to blend in with natural surroundings. The inside of the box should not be painted or stained.
Figure 6. As with the single compartment wood nest box, each section of the double compartment wood nest box must have a ¼-inch hardware cloth mesh ladder fastened below the entrance. In addition, 3 to 5 inches of nest material must be provided in each compartment.
The double compartment nest box construction is similar to the single compartment wood box. An important aspect to remember is the use of the proper nails. It may be necessary to drill pilot holes to avoid splitting the wood. It is also important to drill four ¼-inch drain holes through the bottom of each nest box compartment (Figure 7).
The double compartment nest box plan shows design variations which can be used to provide easy access for inspection, cleaning and general maintenance. These variations, in addition to the top hinge shown in Figure 7, are the top cleat with wing nut and side hinge (Figure 8).
Again all entrance holes should be patterned after the guidelines established for the single compartment nest box. The entrance hole should be an oval 3 inches high and 4 inches wide for wood ducks, hooded mergansers and bufflehead. Also, it is important to remember to attach a 3- to 4-inch x 14-inch strip of ¼-inch mesh hardware cloth to the inside of each box under the entrance (Figure 4).