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

Waterfowl and Piping Plover Use of Points and Islands in Northwestern North Dakota

Tim Kessler, Frank Kartch and Dave Gillund
Crosby Wetland Management District
Crosby, North Dakota


From 1986 through 1988 we searched artificial and natural island in northwestern North Dakota to locate waterfowl and shorebird nests. At Big Meadows Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) 19 of 25 artificial islands were searched in late May, 1987. Ten of the islands were searched a second time in mid-June, 1987. Islands varied in size from 0.5 to 0.75 acres. In Willow Lake 3 nest searches were conducted on a 3.5 acre private island in 1988. In addition several other islands were searched for nests in Mountrail County in 1986 and 1987.

An average of 25 duck nests and 1 Canada goose (Branta canadensis) nest was found per island in Big Meadows WPA. Percentage of nests by duck species was as follows: mallard (Anas Platyrhynchos) 38.1%, gadwall (Anas strepera) 18.9%, northern pintail (Anas acuta) 15.7%, blue-winged teal (Anas discors) 11.5%, northern shoveler (Anas clypeata) 5.3%, America wigeon (Anas americana) 3.4%, redhead (Aythya americana) 3.0%, lesser scaup (Aythya affinis), and green-winged teal (Anas crecca) 1.7%. Of the 350 duck nests located and observed through termination, 310 hatched, 33 were abandoned, and 7 were destroyed by predators. Apparent success was 88.6%. Redhead parasitism was recorded in 42.1% of the observed nests. Host species hatched at least one redhead in 30.7% of the parasitized nests.

On the Willow Lake island 77 giant Canada goose nests were observed, 54 of which hatched, while 23 were abandoned. In all instances, eggs in abandoned nests were infertile. Observed duck nests totalled 75, including 53 mallards, 15 gadwalls, 6 pintails, and 1 redhead. Nest success is pending later visits to the island.

The most notable discovery on islands examined in Mountrail County was the location of 28 piping plover (Charadrius melodus) nests on 2 newly constructed islands.


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