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7/04/2022 - 8/31/2022

For some time now, I have been getting inquiries about the availability of the Indie book by Sheraw. It is now ava


Mandarin Ducks

  1. The Mandarin - the Answer to the Urban Duck Keeper's Prayers
  2. More on Mandarins
  3. Mandarin and Wood Duck Nest Boxes
  4. Taming Mandarins and Wood Ducks

Mandarin and Wood Duck Nest Boxes

What follows is a series of pictures that illustrate the different designs of nest boxes that are used in the breeding programs of several successful breeders. While the exact dimensions differ somewhat, the common elements in the various designs include the following: they are constructed of rot resistant wood and/or are given protective coatings to increase moisture resistance. They all feature a removable lid to facilitate access to the eggs and cleaning ease. Also, each includes a hardware cloth piece inside to aid the ducklings in climbing out of the box.

Since Mandarins do not normally bring nesting materials to their nests, (in the wild they make use of leaf litter already found in most tree cavities) some material should be provided. Cedar shavings work well since they tend to repel insects. Pine shavings also work well. Do not use sawdust since it tends to compact and to easily become mildewed. Three or four inches of bedding should be about right.

If one has pinioned or wing clipped breeding birds, a ramp made of 2 inch or three inch wide by 1 inch thick lumber should be provided. The ramp should either be notched on the upper surface or small cross pieces applied to provide the birds with traction.

The minimum number of boxes to be provided would be one per pair but most breeders prefer to provide at least three for every two pairs because some pairs will reject either the box or it's location for no apparent reason.

A number of states have used plastic nest boxes with success to encourage the breeding of wild Wood Ducks. I have heard from more than one breeder, however, that plastic nests are almost always rejected by Mandarins in captivity.

The nest boxes should be in place well before the birds are expected to lay which may be as early as March in some parts of the country.

Nest box1
This box is used by Evy Avery of New York. It features a landing for the birds outside of the box and the hook/eyes allow a ramp to be attached. This box would be suited for use by either full flighted or pinioned Mandarins.
Avery photo

Nest box2
These pictures illustrate a different design used by breeder Chris Lagerould of Michigan. This design is deeper from the bottom of the entrance hole to the base- it is 18 inches deep as opposed to 11 or 12 inches for others. Also, the lid has no hinges but fits under a cross piece in the back and is held in place in the front by two hook/eye sets on either side- very hard for a predator to get open. The picture on the left illustrates the interior. Note the hardware cloth "ladder" leading up to the hole and the drainage holes in the bottom. Also note that the back piece is several inches longer than the rest of the nest box. This allows the box to be attached either by the back piece at any height or to be rested on the ground with the addition of a block of wood or brick. One additional item, the entrance hole is 4 inches wide.
Horton photo

Originally published: 01-12-2004
Last updated: 11-01-2009