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Ecology and Management of Islands, Peninsulas and Structures for Nesting Waterfowl

"Ducks Nesting on Chesapeake Bay Islands, 1950s vs. 1980s"

Vernon Stotts, Steve Funderburk, and Daniel Stotts


Nesting success of the black duck (Anas rubripes) was examined in the northeastern section of Chesapeake Bay in 1986 and compared to similar data collected in the late 1950s. Information was collected on 159 nests of black ducks and mallards. Results showed that islands were preferred over mainland area for nesting habitat. Of 159 nests, 99 (62%) were located on islands; 63 were black duck, 25 were mallard, and 11 were unknown. Black ducks used islands almost exclusively (63 island nests of a total 66 nests). Mallards used mainland areas more (37 mainland nests vs. 25 island nests). Mixed pine-hardwood forests with Japanese honeysuckle and poison ivy undergrowth were used heavily by black ducks and mallards for nesting cover. Comparisons of results with 1950s' data show that black duck abundance is much less now, and that mallards are much more abundant. Nesting chronology for both species was essentially the same as in the 1950s, although nesting success for black ducks was somewhat lower in 1986. Recommendations are provided for habitat preservation and enhancement.
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