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Waterfowl Studies to Begin at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Northeast Region, April 8, 2013
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Wood duck breeding pair.  New study will focus on wood duck hen and brood survival, and habitat use at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Wood duck breeding pair. New study will focus on wood duck hen and brood survival, and habitat use at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. - Photo Credit: Dorothy Fecske, USFWS.
Long-time volunteers Leo Hollein and Lou Pisane have been leading the Refuge Wood Duck Nest Box Program since 2004.
Long-time volunteers Leo Hollein and Lou Pisane have been leading the Refuge Wood Duck Nest Box Program since 2004. - Photo Credit: Dorothy Fecske, USFWS.

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was established in part to provide migrating, nesting, brood rearing, and feeding habitat for waterfowl. Thanks to a generous donation from the Refuge’s Friends Group, over the next two years, graduate students from Frostburg State University will be conducting research to document use of the refuge’s five wetland impoundments by waterfowl and impacts of predators on waterfowl populations (primarily wood ducks and mallards) during the nesting and brood rearing period. Currently, the wood duck population is monitored through a volunteer-led Wood Duck Nest Box Program. The program was initiated in the mid-1980s to help increase the local wood duck population and has been very successful. Last year more than half of the refuge’s 196 boxes were used by wood ducks, and just over 30% of the boxes succeeded in producing broods. The new studies will expand upon information obtained from annual nest box monitoring efforts. Wood duck hens will be fitted with transmitters and radio-tracked to document habitat use, and hen and brood survival. Key nesting areas, nesting success, and important nest egg predators will be determined through placement of remote trail cameras at mallard and wood duck nests. Additionally, use of various wetland habitats by all waterbirds will be evaluated through population surveys. Finally, through remote camera and scat surveys, the occurrence and distribution of potential mammalian predators (e.g. red fox, raccoon, mink, etc.) will be determined, as well as the extent that these animals rely on waterfowl for prey. Ultimately, the information will be used to help improve management of the refuge’s wetlands for waterfowl.


Contact Info: Steve Henry, 973-425-1222 x-157, steven_s_henry@fws.gov



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