Hen House Project

PHCT's Hen House Project was started by its members in the winter of 1992-93 when PHCT was introduced to floating nest structures. The nests consisted of two cylinders fastened to a triangle shaped platform that floated in the water and was anchored by a cement block. They were placed in larger bodies of water where predators such as fox, raccoon, or skunk could not reach the nesting hen mallard ducks. After using this method for a few years, PHCT found that they were too labor intensive as well as too expensive.

PHCT then started using a more economical pole type structure that could also be used effectively in smaller wetlands. The nest consists of a rolled wire mesh cylinder lined between layers with flax straw or grass hay. The straw or hay lasts one to three or four years, then the nest must be refurbished with new bedding. Two nest cylinders are attached to a 10 ft. “stop sign” post with a welded bracket. A pvc pipe predator guard is also used.

Trust members, other area conservation groups and volunteers construct the nests. They gather beginning in January to do maintenance on existing structures, build new structures, and install the hen houses in suitable habitat. Members will always ask a landowner for permission to install nests in their shallow water slough. More often, however, landowners are requesting nests and will install and maintain the nests themselves. If you see a nest structure that needs to be refurbished, please talk to the landowner or contact a member of PHCT with the location. The hen house project continues to grow. More than 400 hen houses are in place with a nesting success rate exceeding 60%, making a significant impact on the area's duck population. 
2021 Youth Activity Day
The Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust participated in the 2021 Youth Activity Day at the Alexandria Shooting Park.  Hen House rolling at the PHCT site was one of over forty activities for the youth to get involved with. Lars Nelson, Robert Peters, and Rick Paulsen from the PHCT were on site to assist kids with rolling hen houses.  Over forty houses were refurbished during the event.  Total attendance at this years event was over 4500.