There's no doubt about it, Muscovy can be tricky to deal with each breeding season once they begin the search for a
suitable nesting site. The number one goal for a Muscovy duck when finding a suitable site for her nest is security.
She'll go to great lengths to hide her nest in a location that is both away from the community and away from
high-traffic areas, and often-times it'll be where you wouldn't believe she'd fit otherwise! If you're running
free-range birds, chances are your ducks will be best left to their own defenses when finding a nest, if you're setting
up breed pens there are things you can do to encourage birds to lay in a specific location. Myself, I use nest-boxes
that have been made out of plastic 55 gallon drums that have been quartered. To each quarter, now a nest-box, I
have added a section of landscape timber to the front. The purpose of the landscape timber is two-fold. First, it
prevents the nest boxes from being blown upright during our more-often-than-not high winds. Second, the
landscape timber reduces the size of the opening which helps the duck feel more secure and the timber help keeps the
eggs from being rolled out of the nest by other ducks or other creatures. Here on our farm, we have peafowl that
have been known to destroy nests. The landscape timber makes it more difficult for the peafowl to get to the eggs. In
the photo below, I've shown how I set my nest-boxes up. Typically I line them up in sets of three, cascaded one in
front of another. This again helps reduce the size of the opening which helps the bird feel more secure. I also like my
nest-boxes to be on bare earth as I feel this helps regulate temperature & humidity during incubation. The birds will
create impressions in the dirt before laying their eggs & will line these impressions with nesting material and down.
Do you notice anything in the nest-boxes above? In the below photo, which I have enhanced, you may be able to
make out the two ducks that are sitting in the back two boxes.
(The bird in back is a chocolate and can been seen a bit more clearly, the bird in the middle box is a black and the spot of white in the middle nest box is the
white from her wing bar.)
The fact that they have chosen the back two to lay in is exactly why I set them up this way, they feel more secure
with the limited opening and most often those will be the nests that are started first.
The final determination on where I place nest-boxes is where the nest box can be shaded during the heat of the day.
Unfortunately this often means that they're under trees where it's difficult to reach them, but the birds love it!
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