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

Waterfowl Use of a New Structure Type and Color-Dyed Nesting Material in Drought Stricken South Dakota--1988

James D. Ray and Kenneth F. Higgins
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
South Dakota State University
Brookings, South Dakota 57007

During the summer of 1988, the evaluation of waterfowl nesting on artificial structures was continued in eastern South Dakota. Waterfowl use in flax straw nesting material, in 35 open-topped cone baskets, color-dyed green to simulate early green-up, was compared to 35 baskets with natural colored flax straw. The evaluation found 8.6% use of green-dyed structures compared to 17.1% on natural colored straw. Nest success was found to be 100% and 66.7%, respectfully. The elimination of two abandoned nests from the success calculation would give 100% success on both types.

Thirty new tub structures were constructed to hold approximately 20 cm of soil. Each was seeded with a mixture of cool-season grasses, alfalfa, and sweetclover, and augmented with a sparse cover of flax straw. This experiment was designed to produce a self-maintaining structure that would grow its own nesting material annually and yet would be restrictive in size for Canada geese. In this, the initial year, only one of the structures was used (3.3%). This nest was abandoned late in incubation after the wind had blown away all the flax straw.

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