Comparative Use of Three Types of Wood Duck Nest Boxes

In 1971 a joint Tennessee Valley Authority-Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency effort began to increase wood duck (Aix sponsa) productivity, test nest structure acceptability, and document competition-predator problems on a 12.5-mile segment of the upper Holston River in Hawkins County, Tennessee. Over 90 standard wooden, rocket, and horizontal wood duck nest boxes were installed. Duck use of nest boxes increased from 6 percent in 1971 to 44 percent by 1975. Woodie preferences progressed during this time as follows: wooden boxes, 12 percent to 55 percent use; rocket boxes, 3 percent to 57 percent use; and horizontal structures, 0 to 23 percent. Starlings (Stumus e·ulgaris) were chief competitors. using 40 percent available rocket boxes. 19 percent wooden boxes, and 6 percent horizontal structures in 1975. Nevertheless, the use of artificial nesting structures to bolster local wood duck populations appears to be worthwhile in east Tennessee if proper type, erection, and maintenance can be assured.

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