The Tennessee BHA Chapter had an awesome turnout this past Saturday January 14th, at the Wood Duck Box build event with the TWRA on the Percy Priest WMA. As soon as we arrived, Mark Vance with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) went over what we would be doing that day, and the importance of the wood duck boxes. He informed us that wood ducks use these man-made boxes that replicate hollowed nests in standing trees to lay eggs, and why it is important to have several nest sites that are spread out. He said if they are not spread out properly, then wood ducks could lay up to 40 eggs in one box, and that would make it impossible for the majority of the ducks to survive. He also went over why the specific specifications were important, which allows wood ducks to utilize the box for several advantages. A great touch for the inside of the box was he had us install a wire mesh into each box that leads to the hole, so duck offspring can use this to climb out of the box when it is time to, well fly!
The great work started right around 10am and continued consistently until 2pm. We started off by splitting into a few small groups of 3 or 4 people and created an assembly line, with some people cutting the wood to plan and others building the boxes. We had such a large group, that Mark decided to put some people on another project that he was wanting to do, which was to build a bat habitat. That project also took most of the 4 hours that we were there, and it turned out awesome.
Mark was very gracious to the volunteers and brought sausage biscuits, doughnuts, coffee, and water for everybody, as well as supplied everything we needed for the build. All BHA volunteers had to do was show up and be willing to help out. There were over 10 volunteers from BHA and even two kids came out to help. Everybody that came out had a great time, and we can’t wait to partner with the TWRA for future events!
This type of collaboration is the essence behind conservation. When we're able to work with state agencies such as TWRA and improve public lands, habitats, and access, then we know we're doing the right thing! BHA is a grassroots organization, and the work of building both wood duck boxes and bat boxes is certainly grassroots! Stay tuned as the TN BHA Chapter plans more stewardship opportunities!