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Locating and Managing Peninsulas for Nesting Ducks

Monitoring Peninsulas

Maintaining Permanent Records

The management potential of peninsulas for nesting ducks should be determined by a field examination. Information acquired during field examinations should be permanently recorded for use in future management decisions (Figure 5, Appendix C). Each record should include a peninsula name or other identifier, location, habitat description, and information on predator activity and duck use. Many characteristics such as wetland size, peninsula size, wetland type, and wetland number and area can be measured from aerial photographs or National Wetlands Inventory data. Information can be stored on data sheets or as computer accessible files. It is usually helpful to maintain location and cover maps of the sites on file for future use.

Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates, taken at the center of the peninsula, can be used for both the location and the identifier. UTM coordinates can be determined on 1:24,000 maps (7.5 minute series) and 1:250,000 maps available from the U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO 80225. In Canada, the UTM coordinates are on 1:50,000 maps available from Energy, Mines & Resources, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0E9. UTM coordinates should be measured to the nearest 10 meters (32.8 feet) on all map scales.

Figure 5: Peninsula Survey Form.
Figure 5.  Form for recording physical data, predator information, and bird nest numbers and success at peninsulas.

Monitoring Predators

Managed peninsulas should be surveyed for the presence of predators each spring after the ice melts and before trapping begins. Knowledge of the predator species activity at each peninsula is an important guide to the intensity of the predator control required. Mammalian predators are often difficult to observe but their presence can usually be detected by searching for tracks along shorelines and other bare-soil areas. Active dens or fresh scats also indicate the presence of certain predator species. Evidence of predators should be noted on the Peninsula Survey Form (Appendix C).

If bare soil or shorelines are absent, track plots can be constructed by maintaining a 3 feet × 6 feet area free of vegetation. Loamy soil makes the most suitable substrate for identifying animal tracks. During each visit, track plots should be examined for predator sign and then raked clean.

Monitoring Nesting

The duck nesting effort and nest success on managed peninsulas should be appraised every few years by conducting nest surveys. To obtain comparable data, all nest surveys should be conducted in a similar manner during the middle of the nesting season. In the northern plains, a relatively good estimate of nesting effort and nest success can usually be obtained from 2 nest searches. The first search should be conducted in May and the second search should be done 3-4 weeks later in June.

Nest searches should be conducted by 2 or more people pulling a weighted rope over all of the available nesting cover. After a nest is found the location should be marked by placing a willow stake or wire survey flag near the nest bowl (normally 13 feet or 4 m north). The nest identification number should be written on the stake or flag with permanent ink. The nest location should be noted on a map or aerial photograph. The waterfowl species, number of eggs, and incubation stage should be recorded on a nest card; one of which is completed for each nest.

Nest fate should be checked about 2 weeks after the first nest search, during the second nest search, and about 3 weeks after the second nest search when all nest histories are completed. All nests are seldom found, so the Mayfield estimate of nest success should be used (Johnson and Shaffer 1990). A summary of duck nesting data should be recorded on the Peninsula Survey Form. See Klett et al. (1986) for a complete description of nest study techniques.

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