Monday, April 6, 2015

Collaborating for Waterfowl Conservation

By Beth Sullivan

Last year at this time, Dave Lersch, from Delta Waterfowl, walked with me along the impounded marsh at our Anguilla Brook Preserve in Pawcatuck. He was thrilled to see perfect Wood Duck habitat, and we were happy to reveal that we had a member family planning to make, erect, and monitor houses for us on that preserve. Those houses went up a little late last year for nesting use, but we are hoping the returning wood ducks will be checking out the new offerings this season. We will be making a trip out to check in the next week, now that the snow is off the trails and ice is off the marsh.
Wood Ducks are normally very secretive but can be lured out to feed on seeds and grasses. Photo by Bob Dewire.

Dave then contacted stewards Anne Nalwalk and Mac Turner in North Stonington and investigated the Deer Run Preserve as well as the Henne Preserve. Both are beautiful wooded wetlands, perfect for wood ducks.
Dave with Anne Nalwalk and BeeGee with nest boxes to be installed at Deer Run Preserve

Here is Dave’s report:

Ducks Today and Ducks Tomorrow

In a joint effort between Avalonia Land Conservancy and the Connecticut Chapter of Delta Waterfowl Foundation, Wood Ducks and other avian species will find much more accessible and safer nesting opportunities in Avalonia wetlands. Whereas much of the effort to sustain populations of waterfowl migrations focus attention in northern plains states and in Canada, Connecticut has its place in producing waterfowl that will breed, raise their young, migrate, and return to their origins to begin the cycle again. Dave Lersch, Chapter Chairman for Delta Waterfowl in Connecticut said, "Avalonia properties are some of the most potentially productive habitat for duck production. If we can help to increase their nesting success, we can dramatically increase populations of Wood Ducks and other birds that migrate along the Atlantic Flyway." Delta Waterfowl Research in North Dakota and Canada have shown that installing nesting structures reduce predation will increase nesting success by threefold.
Delta Waterfowl volunteer with three sturdy nest boxes ready to install.
One of the attached photos shows Chapter Co-Chair John (JP) Farnell putting the finishing touches on a Wood Duck nest box in Avalonia's Deer Run Preserve at Prentice Brook, Northwest Corner Road, North Stonington.. Within one hour after erecting the box, he observed a mating pair of Wood Ducks swimming under the nest. Additional Wood duck nest boxes are being erected on other Avalonia properties.
Nobody home, yet!
Approximately 11 species of birds, including Kestrels and Screech Owls, may also use these nests. The exact location of each nest box will be documented with the DEEP and checked and cleaned each year in the Fall/Winter months. The DEEP keeps records of bird types using the nests and the size of the clutch, among other data.
A Screech Owl find the nest box a perfect fit.


dditional information about Delta Waterfowl Foundation may be found on their web site at

Habitat Conservation

While Delta Waterfowl is an organization the promotes safe and responsible hunting, they also concentrate on and fund habitat restoration and conservation. We appreciate their support for our conservation goals even though we do not allow hunting on our preserves.
Habitat at Henne is perfect for Painted Turtles and Wood Ducks.

We will keep an eye on these boxes and make reports as the season goes on. There are diagrams and plans for building Wood Duck sized houses on line. Even if you don’t have the perfect territory for that target species, you may be rewarded by a Screech Owl or Kestrel if you position it right!
A young steward installs a predator baffle below a nest box on Anguilla Brook Marsh Preserve.

Thank you Dave and John and Delta Waterfowl.

Photographs by Beth Sullivan unless otherwise indicated.

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