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Posted on Fri, May 20, 2011 : 6:05 a.m.

Building a wild duck house can be a fun family project

By Keith A. Paul


Photo by: Nicholas Paul

Hi Keith, There are several mallard ducks around our 1/4-acre pond that I am considering buying or building a home for. Are you aware of a duck house I can purchase or construct to keep them in the area?
—Aaron, F. Ann Arbor

Absolutely. It’s great to share this article with fellow nature lovers. Providing shelter for wild ducks can help protect them from predators while giving them a secure nesting spot.

Michigan has several species of ducks; just in our pond we have seen mallards, green winged teals and wood ducks. Although constructing a house for each of these species is different, we will focus on the type of construction that is mallard duck-friendly.

This spring, my family and I researched the mallard duck’s living environment as well and decided to build a duck house of our own. Not only was it a fun family project, but we enjoy watching the mallard duck couple actually living in their new home. It was exciting to see the mother duck settle in and construct her nest while we await the arrival of her new family.


Photo by: Nicholas Paul

After researching, we noticed quite a few mallard duck houses were similar to a floating dog house with a walk out deck. Although a few sites suggested making an entrance and an exit, we decided to keep one opening for improved shelter and a warmer nest.

We began our project by building the base as a floating platform frame with weather-resistant wood. Build two four-by-four foot platform frames with approximately a two and 1/2-foot gap in between. The gap will allow you to insert a Styrofoam sheeting to keep the platform afloat. We tested it by putting it in the pond and having my 13-year-old daughter stand on it to ensure it could withstand the weight of the house... she stayed dry.

Be sure to use galvanized screw fasteners to prevent corrosion.

Next, frame the house with a two-by-two foot wood frame and one sloped roof. For the exterior siding and roof, we purchased weather-resistant dog ear fence slats, cut and installed while overlapping each piece. The inside flooring is built one inch above the platform deck for extra precaution in maintaining a dry nest.

The next step is to put hay or grass in their new shelter. We used dried grass and leaves from around the pond for a familiar setting. You can also entice the ducks by putting cracked corn or bird seed with cracked corn on the deck of the house. Contrary to popular custom, do not feed the ducks bread, as it is not healthy for them.

To help the ducks climb onto the deck, secure a wire mesh screen from the deck into the water.

Next screw one or two eye bolts on either side of the home. Attach a rope or stainless steel wire and connect with an anchor (masonry blocks worked well for us). Be sure to give enough slack allowing the house to freely float up and down with the spring water levels but not allowing it to violently shift on a windy day.

Be sure to have the house a minimum of seven feet from the shore line protecting them from predators such as raccoons, snakes or even cats.


Photo by: Nicholas Paul

Although we are later into the nesting season, there could be time for ducks to settle into your duck house. We are still anxiously waiting for our ducklings to make their first appearance. I hope that you’re able to enjoy this process while giving your new friends a permanent home.

Paul is a State of Michigan Licensed Builder. Paul serves as president and founding member of nationally franchised HandyPro Handyman Service, servicing Washtenaw, Wayne and Oakland Counties. Find them at Listen to Paul every Saturday at 11 a.m. on “It’s Your Home, Let’s Talk About It” WAAM Talk 1600AM. Email questions or comments to



Tue, May 24, 2011 : 9:22 a.m.

Hmm, scaling up that duck house might make a nice houseboat to anchor on Argo Pond. ;-) Seriously, that's a really nice idea but I don't have a pond. One more reason to bet on the Lotto.


Sat, May 21, 2011 : 12:14 p.m.

Thank you... We have a pair whom we call Donald and Daisy, and we would love to build them a house. We hope they'll return next year also.