What is in a Wood Duck Box

Grey phase eastern screech-owl found roosting in a wood duck box.
Grey phase eastern screech-owl found roosting in a wood duck box.

Many of the Volunteers at the Refuge check wood duck boxes in the fall and in the winter months on the Iroquois NWR. Normally they find unused boxes or boxes used by wood ducks, hooded mergansers or both.

Frequently they find evidence that an eastern screech-owl has been in the box and left owl pellets or feathers from a bird that they have captured. Occasionally they find a surprise in a box. The picture above shows a grey phase eastern screech-owl found roosting in a box. The owls are removed and checked for leg bands. If it is banded then the band number is read and recorded. If it is not banded then a USFWS band is placed on its leg, band number recorded and then the owl is placed back into the box. The owls tend to stash prey that they capture in the boxes for future meals. The whole prey and any bits and pieces found in the box are left there for them to use later if the so desire. The picture below shows a rufous phase eastern screech-owl that was found on January 8, 2013 just west of Seneca pool. The rufous phase or red phase screech-owl is not common in this area but is more common farther south. We do capture one every two or three years.

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Rufous phase eastern screech-owl roosting in a wood duck box.
Rufous phase eastern screech-owl roosting in a wood duck box.

The picture below is also a rare find. This is a honey bee nest that is still active. Honey bees live in their nest all winter and if it warms up they can become active so you have to be cautious. If checking duck boxes sounds like work that would be appealing to you call the Refuge (585-948-5445 Ext. 2233 and leave a message at the Friends Office) to register for future opportunities.

Honey bees like wood duck boxes as well!
Honey bees like wood duck boxes as well!