Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Once near extinction, the population has increased to more than 4,000 birds.
HABITAT: Typically found in open boreal forest; prefers large shallow, fertile marshes or lakes (up to 4 feet deep) with a profusion of submerged and emergent aquatic plants, and generally untimbered but well-vegetated shorelines. During winter, prefers shallow lakes, streams, and ponds with open water that are bordered by some level and open terrain.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Shallow, sheltered waters that do not have a fluctuating water level, and some margins of emergent vegetation.
NEST: Nests on the ground on any site above the general level of the marsh terrain, preferably on muskrat houses surrounded by water 1 to 3 feet deep. Also nests on shore in sedges, bulrushes, cattails, rushes, or in horsetail. Has a nesting territory that ranges from 70 acres along irregular shorelines to 150 acres along straight shorelines.
FOOD: Feeds primarily in shallow waters of lakes or open marsh, digging up roots and tubers of aquatic plants, or snapping off plant parts with bill; rarely feeds on land. Eats a variety of marsh and aquatic plants.
REFERENCES: Banko 1960, Bellrose 1976, Johnsgard 1975b, Terres 1980, Van Wormer 1972.