Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Locating and Managing Peninsulas for Nesting Ducks
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. Form for recording physical data,
predator information, and bird nest numbers and success at peninsulas.
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.
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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