Ken with Cylinder

Mallard Nesting Project

Mallard Hen Nest
If You Build Them,
They Will Come

In recent years, increasing populations of fur-bearing predators, such as raccoons, have caused serious nest predation losses to ground nesting waterfowl, such as mallards. For example, Cornell University studies have estimated that natural mallard nest success rates on the Tonawanda WMA in Western New York State are quite low, varying between 1% and 28%, depending on location.

Beginning in 1986, NYS Bureau of Wildlife biologists began experiments with artificial nesting structures that would thwart predators, and boost waterfowl production. Initially, they produced a tripod-based nest basket design that proved effective in attracting waterfowl. Currently, the NYS Bureau of Wildlife has over 200 tripod structures installed on these two state areas.

Beginning in 1991 FL&WNYWA, in co-operation with NYS Bureau of Wildlife biologists, initiated a tripod construction, installation, and monitoring program primarily on the Tonawanda WMA, designated the Fran Finnick Memorial Project. The project was later expanded to include the Oak Orchard WMA, the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, and the Montezuma Wetlands Complex.

Hen In Basket

In 1996, FL&WNYWA volunteers introduced a nesting cylinder design based somewhat on the Hen House widely publicized by Delta Waterfowl. However, unlike the Delta design, this structure is much cheaper to construct (~ $13), can be assembled from readily available materials, is capable of using tripod support structures in addition to traditional pole-type supports, and requires no special assembly skills such as welding.

Based upon six years of in-the-field testing, nesting cylinders have proven far superior to traditional nest basket designs, consistently demonstrating nest use rates near 60% and nest success rates greater than 95%. They were 58% more likely to be used than traditional nest baskets while providing critical overhead protection from avian predators such as the Great Horned Owl.

Some wildlife professionals believe that high nest success rates, coupled with low cost and ease of assembly, could make the nesting tripod the ".... wood duck box of the 21 st century".

How To Build, Maintain, and Check Nesting Cylinders

Anyone with basic mechanical ability and access to a private pond or wetland can start their own nesting project. We've included ADOBE PDF documents on how to build, maintain, and check nesting cylinders in the field (the ADOBE reader is free and can be downloaded via a link on this page). All necessary materials are available at Home Depot or similar stores.

REMEMBER - to be successful, these structures MUST BE CHECKED AND MAINTAINED on a regular basis.they cannot be put out and forgotten. The following documents can get you started. If you require additional information please feel free to contact us.

PDF Files All reports best viewed with the free Adobe Reader 7