Hen Houses and Habitats
Goals and Objectives
While wetland loss is ongoing across North America, it has the greatest impact to waterfowl when occurring
in the prairie pothole region where up to 70% of waterfowl species nest. The Hen Houses and Habitats project
will improve waterfowl and wetland bird species production within this region by placing long- and mid-term
protection on wetlands and provide wetland enhancement by improving waterfowl production through the
installation of Hen Houses.
Under this project, 1,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats will be permanently protected
using conservation easements. Conservation of these habitats will be conducted within the Minnedosa/Shoal
Target Landscape, an area that supports an average waterfowl breeding density of 30-40 pairs per square
mile. Mid-term conservation of an additional 300 acres of wetlands in the same target area will be completed
using 10-year conservation contracts.
Further to the long- and mid-term conservation of habitat, MHHC will enhance the habitat secured under a
conservation easement or contract via the placement of 500 Hen Houses. These artificial nesting structures
greatly improve the breeding success of mallards and produce an average of 2.35 duck fledglings per nest per
year. Hen Houses, and the associated conservation contract, offer landowners a low-risk entry into conservation
programming with MHHC and its partners. This entry point fosters an opportunity for MHHC to engage new
private-land conservationist and develop future participants in its conservation easement program. Based on
previous experience, it is estimated that up to 20% of these mid-term conservation contracts will result in long-
term conservation easements.
 Prairie Habitat Joint Venture. 2008. Prairie Habitat Joint Venture Implementation Plan 2007 – 2012. Report
of the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture. Environment Canada, Edmonton, AB. 34 pp. (Revised May 2009)
Specific Habitat Products/Results Supported by WHC’s Contributions
WHC funding will be used to fund the purchase of 500 Hen Houses that will produce an estimated 11,750
fledgling mallards over the 10-year conservation contract term. Additional WHC funds will be used to facilitate
the installation of these structures as well as fund a portion of the delivery associated with the acquisition of
conservation contracts (i.e. 10-year agreements) and conservation easements (i.e. perpetual agreements).
Benefits to Waterfowl, Wetlands-Associated Species, and/or Other Wildlife
Hen Houses and Habitats will provide benefits to many of the 166 bird species that are found within Canada’s
prairie pothole region, but a particular benefit to the 48 waterfowl and wetland-associated species will be seen.
Wetland enhancement, through the installation of Hen Houses, will primarily benefit mallards (Anas
platyrhynchos). Hen Houses provide mallards with a much greater nesting success rate by providing a nest
structure that minimizes predation opportunity. It is estimated that within this project’s target area, one hen
house will produce 2.35 fledged mallards per year—a success rate of 61%—whereas regular ground-based
nests in the target area have a success rate of less than 0.05%.
Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management
The project directly contributes to the conservation of habitat by providing mid- and long-term habitat securement.
It also provides indirect habitat conservation benefits through the promotion of the project amongst landowners
and with local conservation organizations. The provision of a 10-year conservation option will serve as an entry
point to the engagement of landowners not currently interested in perpetual conservation options but are interested
in habitat conservation and enhancement.
Rural municipalities of Blanshard, Hamiota, Harrison, Odanah, Saskatchewan, Shoal Lake and Strathclair.
For more information on this project, please contact Stephen Carlyle, Program Development Manager, The Manitoba
Habitat Heritage Corporation, Manitoba.