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Friday, December 16, 2011

Structures of Utility

Neighbors down the road, Keith and Denise, told me they found a duck in their fireplace. I knew that tree-nesting ducks, desperately short of available nesting cavities would sometimes resort to inter species brooding within the same cavity. Wood ducks sometimes shared with common mergansers, sitting side by side while incubating their respective egg clutches. But desperation must be acute when a duck seeking a suitable nesting place will enter a house chimney. Keith opened his front door and the glass doors on his fireplace allowing the merganser to fly, trailing a plume of ash, back toward the creek, a good quarter mile distant.
Time to erect some duck boxes. The first is a common merganser box 20' high on a valley oak and about 50 yards from the creek. The common merganser is a relatively large bird requiring a box substantially bigger than that of the wood duck.

A wood duck house 20' up on an adjacent valley oak.

Two of our dozen bluebird boxes are utilized by bluebirds. The rest are tenanted by tree swallows.

The barn owl box has produced two broods, but in most years is used simply as a sheltered roost by the owls.

The bat house in inhabited by roughly 60 bats. They appear mostly to be little brown bats, but because of the difficulty of identifying them we may be overlooking other species.

The bunk house is a basic structure architecturally rivaling a bird house, and evoking American classic structures like Thoreau's cabin, Lincoln's birthplace, Pollack's barn and Kasinsky's hermitage.