Maryland Wood Duck Initiative - A Total Wetland Experience
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B&W illustration of wood duck nest box

MWDI Shines a Spotlight on Bryon Bodt and Anita C. Leight Center naturalists & volunteers

Director's Message

Spotlight on MWDI's
2015 Lumber Cutting Day Volunteers

February 2015 Director’s Message

The 2014 annual nesting survey on 87 public sites is almost completed. Production from 1,700+ boxes is estimated to slightly exceed 8,000 ducklings, essentially on par with the 2013 hatch of 7,990.

The last two years are the highest observed and reflect a favorable gain from the 7,100 ducklings recorded in 2012.

Productivity varies significantly between projects (believed to be habitat related) and from year-to-year within our more substantial sites for continually unexplained reasons but we apparently have enough of a data sample to “smooth” out these occurrences.

Maryland is a little unique in that there is substantial brood rearing habitat on the Eastern Shore (the Delmarva Peninsula east of the Chesapeake Bay and bounded by the Atlantic Ocean) although there are relatively few cavity bearing trees. The proportion of estimated breeding pairs utilizing artificial nest is relatively high – perhaps more than 33% based on USF&W statistics as compared to other areas which are generally estimated to be in the 3-5% range.

The number of breeding pair associated with nesting programs is pretty well defined as they can be counted and reasonably estimated for private programs after some adjustments to exclude re-nesting attempts by the same pair but the overall statewide breeding pair population estimate is necessarily less definitive based on banding data. Nonetheless, the continuing contribution to Maryland’s wood duck population from nesting programs is considered to be meaningful.

USF&W Atlantic Flyway data, which considered the 5 year experiment of an increased daily bag limit to 3 wood ducks daily, has essentially concluded that the population has “absorbed” the increased harvest acceptably after an initial negative impact. MWDI’s data also seem to support that inferential conclusion, which is based on analysis of band recoveries.

Habitat was very good last year except for a significant flood event along the Patuxent River and elsewhere which ruined many early nests at two of our larger sites. Re-nesting activity was strong but not enough to compensate for the losses. MWDI’s overall stats would have been moderately higher had it not been for this weather event. Water levels in all seasonal wetlands are very good for the start of the 2015 season.

MWDI youth and scout events will continue to focus on box assembly and presentations to various wildlife groups - averaging 3 presentations and 5 assembly events (involving approximately 100 boxes) annually.

MWDI wishes to thank MD DNR "volunteers" for their support in our recent Lumber Cutting Day at the Millington WMA as well as some of our other "veteran" volunteers. Special thanks are also due the Chesapeake Chapter of the Safari Club for their funding support of this year's cypress.


Cliff Brown
Executive Director
Maryland Wood Duck Initiative

The Maryland Wood Duck Initiative is an all-volunteer wildlife conservation effort started in late 2004. Our objectives are to enhance Maryland’s wood duck population and to generate a greater appreciation of the wetland habitats in which they live by advocating and demonstrating the merits of a “best practices” approach in managed nest programs.

Leveraging these focused efforts on the wood duck, we seek to provide a Total Wetlands Experience for our volunteers and the “next generation” through the development of complementary educational programs, internships and research projects.
Maryland Wood Duck Initiative logo & Photo Collage