Increasing Waterfowl Reproductive Success in Core Breeding Habitats of Canada, 2016-2017

Project by the Delta Waterfowl Foundation.

Location: NAWMP Target landscapes in AB, MB, ON and SK.

For more information on this project, please contact Jim Fisher, Director of Conservation Policy, Winnipeg, MB.

Purpose

Using the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and sound waterfowl science as a guide, this project was designed to improve waterfowl reproductive success and recruitment, as well as conserve important breeding and migratory habitats.  This project will directly influence over 4,000 acres of habitat through; 1) installation of 600 new Hen Houses in key waterfowl production areas of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, 2) maintenance of 1,995 existing Hen Houses in Prairie Habitat Joint Venture (PHJV) Target Landscapes, and 3) protection of over 110 acres of wetlands and associated uplands in Manitoba. 

Delta Waterfowl will work with Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation, and other NAWMP partners to determine optimal locations for installation of new structures, including conservation lands.  Each Hen House will be maintained and evaluated (for usage by nesting ducks) annually for a minimum of 10 years.  Approximately 5,450 incremental (additional ducks hatched as a result of a management activity) fledged ducks will be produced annually by this cooperative effort, providing direct benefits to waterfowl hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts.

Hen Houses engage new landowners in conservation, opening the door to opportunities to other wetland related conservation programs.  As part of this project in Manitoba, the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation will protect 111 acres of wetlands and associated uplands within PHJV Target Landscapes.  This project will demonstrate how conservation groups can work cooperatively throughout Canada to achieve NAWMP goals.

Long-term conservation impacts and benefits

Individual Hen House last up to 20 years or longer, providing benefits to duck populations as long as they are regularly maintained.  Dilapidated or damaged structures are replaced as needed.  Structures installed as part of this project will be maintained by Delta Waterfowl for a minimum of 10 years, then reviewed to measure productivity.  If these Hen Houses remain productive, Delivery Specialists will continue maintenance as long as funding is available.  Delta’s Hen House program has been active since 1991.

All 111 wetland and upland habitat acres that would be enrolled as part of this project will be protected in perpetuity, providing habitat for ducks and other wetland dependent wildlife.

New tools, methodologies, landscape practices or protocol

Delta Waterfowl is now using SPOT messenger technology to track installation and maintenance activities of House Delivery Specialists throughout Canada.  At the push of a button, these Satellite-tracked devices send a real-time email/text containing the GPS coordinates and a message to Delta Waterfowl staff.  These devices have greatly improved accountability and data collection of the Hen House program.

Stewardship

Hen Houses provide an excellent opportunity for voluntary participation in construction, installation, maintenance and evaluation of the structures.  Delta Waterfowl members and chapter volunteers regularly assist with these programs, as well as Boy Scouts, school groups and other groups interested in conservation.  Each spring and fall, 30-40 volunteers/donors tour Hen House project sites in the Canadian parklands to learn about issues facing waterfowl and wetlands.  Delta Waterfowl also provides instructions for construction, installation, and maintenance of Hen Houses to encourage individuals to engage in this valuable conservation program.