Marcy Haworth

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Kenneth F. Higgins

Second Advisor

Charles G. Scalet


Artificial nesting structures are currently being used by various agencies to offset the decline in waterfowl production due to predation losses and degradation of nesting habitats. However, the various structure types available are not equally attractive to nesting waterfowl. This study looked at 3 types of artificial nesting structures – open topped cone baskets, round hay bales, and concrete culverts – and evaluated their used, success, and production in South Dakota. Structure type and site characteristics were correlated to occupancy rates and nesting success. Sixty-eight baskets and 205 bales were monitored during 1986, and 154 baskets, 200 bales, and 20 culverts were monitored in 1987. A total of 239 waterfowl nests were found for both years combined. Primary nesting species were mallards (Ana platyrhynchos), redhead (Aythya americana), and giant Canada geese (Branta Canadensis). Occupancy rates averaged 24.0%, 45.7%, and 15.0% for baskets, bales, and culverts, respectively. Nesting success averaged 69.5%, 35.8% and 66.7% for baskets, bales, and culverts, respectively. Production of young averaged 1.08, 0.81, and 0.85 young/structure for baskets, bales and culverts, respectively. Structure and site characteristics found to be significant (P<0.05) included structure angle, water depth, distances to shore, open water, and closest structure, percentages of surrounding plant species, plant species coverage within the wetland basin, and surrounding land use. When compared with upland nesting studies, artificial nesting structures showed nesting success rates of 2-4 times greater. With better knowledge of preferred structure types and sites characteristics, it may be possible to increase occupancy rates, thereby increasing waterfowl numbers, at least on a local level.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Waterfowl -- South Dakota
Waterfowl -- South Dakota -- Nests
Nest building


Includes bibliographical references (pages 71-79)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Only