Those familiar with the characteristics of Lake Granbury might begin noticing a new addition.
Robert Irion, who is working on a project for his Eagle Scout Merit Badge, has begun building and installing wood duck nesting boxes on the lower end of the reservoir.
Irion approached the Brazos River Authority about the project and detailed his plan to staff, said Kyle Lewis, BRA Project Manager/Program Coordinator at Lake Granbury.
“He’s a pretty impressive kid,” Lewis said. “He’s really thought this through. He’s put a lot of detail into this.”
The project comes just in time as nesting begins around March and can extend through July, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ducks and geese are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It’s not only important to leave the newly-installed boxes alone as they are part of an outstanding conservation project by a local youth, but destroying a nest or egg, killing, or possessing these birds without a permit, is prohibited.
“We want the public to enjoy them, but from a distance,” Lewis said.
Wood ducks, which belong to the perching duck tribe, were on the verge of extinction in the early 1900s due to habitat loss. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, helped reverse that trend, according to a report by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Nest box projects are recommended for conservation-minded landowners.
“Wood ducks in Texas are an important aspect of the wildlife community,” according to the TPWD report. “Their uniqueness makes them valuable not only to hunters but also to birdwatchers or people who seldom encounter the exquisite beauty of this “native” Texan. Furthermore, wood duck populations are a barometer of land-use changes. Declines in wood duck numbers can serve as an indicator of loss of essential bottomland hardwood habitat. Because this ecosystem serves as an integral part of the overall landscape, steps need to be taken to minimize further losses. To aid this cause, every effort needs to be taken to ensure that wood ducks remain part of legacy of wildlife resources in Texas.”
As the nesting season approaches, be on the lookout for new nests in your area. If you stumble across one, know incubation time is about 30 days, and then once the eggs hatch, chicks are unable to fly until they are about 60 days old, according to the U.S. Field and Wildlife.
Thanks to Robert Irion selecting Lake Granbury for his project to obtain his Eagle Scout Merit Badge, residents and visitors will enjoy the visitation of additional wood ducks to the area for years to come.