Overview of Domestic Duck Housing

Today many people are raising backyard chickens and some are branching out into backyard ducks as well. Ducks and chickens obviously need somewhat different housing. In this article, we will discuss the steps necessary to build the best duck houses. Read on to learn more.

There are many options for building good duck housing. You can do something simple such as repurposing a pre-built dog house, or start from scratch by building a customized shed. Whatever you do, the most important thing to keep in mind is security. Unlike wild ducks, farm ducks are not able to fly and cannot move very quickly. Even in daylight, they are an easy mark for predators. At night, when they are asleep, they are literally “sitting ducks”.

Anything you build must provide protection against hawks, owls, raccoons, skunks, possums, weasels, foxes and even domestic cats and dogs. Ducks do not roost at night, so a duck house does not need a roosting bar. Nor does it need a nest box. In the wild, ducks nest in a hidden space on the ground. Domestic ducks nest on the floor of their house. For this reason, an open structure such as a shed, playhouse or dog house is a good starting point for building a duck house. Make it secure by adding a door and covering openings with hardware cloth.

Windows and other openings should also have hinged shutters that can be closed against inclement weather. Be sure to include vents covered with hardware cloth just under the edge of the roof. When your ducks are sleeping their breath will make the air very humid so ventilation is very important. If the moisture is allowed to collect, it can lead to mold problems and cause illness.

The entrance and exit door to your duck house should be large enough that two ducks can go through at once. If your duck house is elevated, you should also provide a ramp for easy access. It should also have a very secure cover and latch to keep clever predators out. Raccoons are very handy and can figure out simple latches and slide bolts. Be sure the latch you choose locks securely.

Wild ducks nest right on the ground, but your domestic ducks should have solid flooring to keep them up off the damp ground and to protect them against burrowing predators. You can pour a concrete foundation or build a wood floor. Use a stall mat or other rubber mat specially cut to fit the space so that you can clean up quickly and easily.

Ducks usually sleep on a pile of bedding such as straw, wood chips or leaves. For this reason, they need more space than chickens. Any structure you choose or build for your ducks should provide four square feet of space for each duck.

Straw is inexpensive and truly ideal for duck bedding. Be sure to store your straw in a dry location so that it does not get moldy. Change the bedding regularly (weekly) to keep it clean and dry. Put used bedding in your compost heap to create rich soil for your garden or to fertilize trees and bushes.

You can also use fallen leaves or wood shavings as bedding; however, be sure not to use pine or other coniferous tree products because the oil they contain can cause breathing and lung problems for animals that are kept in close proximity with these products.

Ducks can be delightful pets, and their eggs are very good for eating and baking. Additionally, unlike chickens, ducks tend to lay eggs all year round. Investing in a secure duck environment will ensure that your ducks are safe against predators and have a healthy, comfortable setting to enjoy a long, happy life.

To see our other posts on wild birds see here.

A Guide To Barn Owls In North America

The owl that is most commonly called a barn own is also commonly called a common barn owl. As is described later, this bird has other nicknames in different regions. The bird varies its habitats and appearances in different regions, but is still most regarded as the same species of owl.

In fact, this bird is very common in North America. But also, it is the most common owl species all over the world. Besides the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, barn owls can be found everywhere except in deserts, polar areas, and some parts of Asia.

North American Barn Owls: Family Tree

captive barn owl

The first thing to do is mention that it belongs to one of the two major lineages of modern-day owls. The other family is called “typical owls.” Even though barn owls are found almost all over the world, the New World lineage is distinct. Some experts divide the North American common barn owl into its own species but other do not really think it merits this distinction.

Some populations may have very different typical appearances, but they aren’t generally regarded as distinct species. They are just populations that have been separated long enough to develop somewhat different habits, habitats, and appearances.

North America barn owls can vary in size and colors. However, they are commonly between about a foot and a foot and a half long. Their wingspans vary from about 31 inches to over a yard long. Mostly, they have grey or brown head plumage. Plumage on underparts may be brown or white, and it is often speckled with darker markings.

How Do North American Barn Owls Live?

In North America, barn owls hunt at night. In comparison, similar owls found in the UK and some parts of the Pacific might may hunt in the daytime. They usually hunt ground animals such as rats, mice and other rodents. They may hunt mice and similar small animals, and they have very good hearing to find these animals by the slightest noise that they might make.

These owls usually choose a lifetime mate. If one of the pair is killed, the other owl might form a bond with a new mate. Exact breeding times may vary by climate, but the female will produce an average clutch of 4 eggs. These are usually nested within a hollow tree, cliff fissure, or even a barn.   The latest trend in rodent and pest management is for farmers to utilize barn owls rather than poisonous pesticides. The farmers will place nesting boxes for the barn owls around their properties and this strategy has proven wildly successful for both owls and farmers.

The female of the pair is responsible for all of the egg’s incubation. That means that the male must bring back all of the food for her and her young baby owls. In times of plenty, North American barn owl populations might explode. Because of this, the barn owl is not usually considered endangered in most areas.

It’s interesting to note that barn owls aren’t always called barn owls. They are sometimes called church owls, barnyard owls, straw owls, or cave owls. It depends upon the region and sometimes, the most common habitat or appearance of the owls in the area.

To see our other wild bird posts go here.

Pointers On How To Choose A Purple Martin House

If you are the sort of individual who finds the presence of birds around your home pleasant, then purple martins ought to be your birds of choice. These migratory birds epitomize the marvelous nature of birds. For bird watching enthusiasts, the rich chortles of the birds liven your premises with natural sounds that are not only relaxing but are also somewhat stress relieving.

The history of man and martins being associated is long. We have always endeavored to help these beautiful creatures thrive by providing nests for them to reside whenever their migratory paths bring them to our neighborhoods.

However, we should take note of the fact that regardless of how much we seek to provide a haven for the birds, our efforts are only as good as the houses we choose to provide for them. Being wild birds, martins will reside only in shelters that they perceive to be safe. It, therefore, goes without saying that any purple martin house that is particularly susceptible to sparrow and starling invasion and hawk and snake attacks will not be attractive for the birds to nest in. At the first sight of danger from such predators, martins tend to leave never to return to that house.

Things To Consider

Much thought should go into the choice of house you choose to either make or purchase. In order to attract purple martins and more importantly to retain the colony in subsequent years it’s critical to choose a house that is attractive the bird from all angles. Among the things to keep in mind when choosing a house include;

Security

As mentioned earlier, the birds will abandon the house if they sense danger in the area. In this regard, you should make sure that the house is free standing – not attached to any tree or the ground by wires. This is to mean that the structure of the housing mount (the pole) should be sufficient enough to support the houses on its own. Additionally, the house should have predator protection (especially from hawks and snakes) to attract purple martins every season.

The house should also be sturdy, thus making sure that the doors are always oriented in the same direction for the birds to remember easily.

Cavity Number

Purple martins fly and stay in colonies. They are not solitary birds. As a consequence, they tend to shun away from houses with few cavities. Conversely, houses with a considerably greater number of cavities (six – 13) tend to attract them more easily. Therefore, while choosing a house meant to attract a colony of martins, ensure the number of cavity or compartments is sufficient. This is generally not a problem as convention martin houses tend to have 12 compartments. It is always better to provide more housing than not enough. A typical 12 room house will generally be considered full at 6 nests as the birds like to have more space between them. Be sure to look for porch dividers or some separation between the nest openings when possible.

Height Of The Mounting Pole

The recommended height of the mounting pole should be between 10 and 15 feet depending on the surrounding. The pole should be secured deeply in the ground in concrete if possible to ensure stability and safety.

The House Design

The design of the house can be convention apartment style with 2 levels and 12 compartments or gourds are another great option that the martins love. If you’re in an area with European starlings be sure to get starling resistant holes which are crescent shaped. The nesting compartments should be spacious to allow nestlings to spread out. 6 x 12 compartment size is ideal for martins. Spacious rooms also encourage the free flow of air that keeps the nestling comfortable.

For more info on the latest in purple martin houses visit our friend’s wild bird store.  They have a huge selection and genuinely care about customers and their birds.

Welcome to Our Site

Hi and thanks for stopping by Martin Songs!  We’re in the midst of an overhaul on the site so please forgive us at the moment.  The goal is to convert our site into a place to gather information about different bird species and also how to attract them, feed them and various other topics.  We may even start offering products for sale on the site that we can ship right to your door.  That will probably come a bit later but for now we’re busy doing research and putting together a plan for the new launch.  Please check back soon or feel free to write us in the mean time at info@martinsongs.com.  Again, thanks for stopping by and your continued support.