Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Marcy Haworth and Kenneth F. Higgins
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
South Dakota Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
South Dakota State University
Brookings, South Dakota 57007
A total of 239 waterfowl nests were found for both years combined. Primary nesting species were mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), redheads (Aythya americana), and giant Canada geese (Branta canadensis). Occupancy rates averaged 23%, 45.6%, and 25% for baskets, bales, and culverts, respectively. Nesting success averaged 68.6%, 35.5%, and 66.7% for baskets, bales, and culverts, respectively. Production of young averaged 1.08, 0.81, and 0.85 young/structure for baskets, bales, and culverts, respectively. Structure and site characteristics found to be significant (P < 0.05) included structure angle, water depth, distances to shore, open water, closest structure, percentages of surrounding plant species, plant species coverage within the wetland basin, and surrounding land use.
When compared with upland nesting studies, artificial nesting structures showed nesting success rates of 2-4 times greater. With greater knowledge of preferred structure types and site characteristics, it may be possible to increase occupancy rates, thereby, increasing waterfowl numbers, at least on a local level.