Conservation project 9: DuckBIRD BoxHOUSE

This week we were back at Old Hickory Lake with Ranger Allen Earhart. After deftly constructing and placing the fish attractors the week previous, we followed in the vein of building homes for the creatures of the lake and having covered the underwater citizenry we looked to the sky. Army Corps of Engineers regularly places and upkeeps both duck boxes and bird houses and so we jumped into the process.

We met with Ranger Earhart, Ranger John Baird, and SCA Ranger Intern James Flannery and traveled into the Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Study Area (ESA). First up were the duck boxes. The boxes themselves (really just oversized bird houses) had already been fabricated by previous volunteers and so all we needed to do was set the support post into the ground and screw the box onto the post. We set one in the water itself from off the boat and the other we placed directly onto a Sycamore tree near the water’s edge. We screwed a green plastic spike point onto one end of a 4x4 post so that we could hammer it into the lake bottom. Tyler took up the task and sledge hammered the post into place in no time. Soon the ESA had two new duck boxes added to it’s collection. In a few weeks we plan to head back to see what little things, ducks or not, have found new homes there.

We then headed to the Old Hickory Visitor Center to pick out the best spots for two blue bird houses and one wren house. Walking down to the archery range just behind the visitor center we found a perfect place for one blue bird house and the wren house. We took turns with the post hole digger and tamp rod to chew down two feet and then placed the 4x4s, onto which we screwed on the wood houses. Both wren house and blue bird house are similar save for their openings, the blue bird house having a singular hole toward the top of the house while the wren house has a rectangular slit. We placed the second blue bird house just behind the visitor center, careful not to cut any sprinkler lines.

Putting in these types of wildlife structures is not an everyday task of the Army Corps Rangers so we were happy to be able to join them this day. It is likely the houses and boxes we’ve placed will remain just so for many years. For some of us it may just be years till we’re back in these spaces so here’s to many generations of Duck, Blue Bird, and Wren!

Written by Samuel Cox