Habitat selection and survival of nesting Wood Duck hens and broods along Big Creek in the Long Point Region, 2014-15

Goals and Objectives

The purpose of this study is to help identify potential ecological limitations or amount/type of quality habitats that Wood Ducks need to successfully fledge ducklings. Understanding important variables that help improve management practices should ultimately lead to increased Wood Duck populations. 

Additionally, a report will be developed and provided to managers in the Long Point region and beyond to help facilitate the management of Wood Duck boxes and habitats. Finally, at least one Master’s thesis, including publications in peer reviewed literature, is expected.

The goal of this project is to determine conservation and management priorities that maximize the number of Wood Ducks surviving to fledge within the Long Point region of Southern Ontario.


Specific Habitat Products/Results Supported by WHC’s Contributions

Understanding habitat use/requirements and survival of Wood Duck hens and broods hatched from boxes in southern Ontario will increase our scientific understanding and facilitate the management and conservation of Wood Ducks. Development of a habitat management manual, which will be available to private, government and NGO land managers, will promote the conservation and management of high quality Wood Duck habitat on the landscape. 


Benefits to Waterfowl, Wetland-Associated Species, and/or Other Wildlife

The installation and placement of Wood Duck boxes on private land provides a great opportunity to engage members of the public in conservation activities. Furthermore, by engaging conservation-minded landowners and informing them about the importance of nest box programs, they will see the substantial benefit that these boxes can provide to Wood Ducks and other cavity nesting species. This project has introduced many landowners to the importance and benefits of monitoring nest boxes, and has also engaged and educated many youth about conservation, in a hands-on environment. Finally, by monitoring habitat use of hens, we can inform landowners on what habitats hens use after they exit nest boxes, to further show the importance of maintaining high quality habitats.


Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

We will provide a breeding Wood Duck management and conservation technical document at the end of the project that will be useful for private landowners, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Canadian Wildlife Service, Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Long Point Regional Conservation Authority (and other regional conservation authorities) and landowners in developing best management practices to maximize Wood Duck production, and maintain quality habitats on their lands.


Project Location

The project will occur in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence priority area of the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture, a region where as much as 90% of the original wetlands have been drained, filled, or degraded.

The Long Point region contains a diversity of wetlands and uplands that are protected by government, non-profit, and private interests.  Big Creek drains approximately 730 km2 and provides abundant and diverse bottomland habitat for breeding wood ducks in southern Ontario.  Norfolk County is approximately 5% wetlands, thus we estimate that at least 8,871 acres of wetlands occur in the Big Creek basin that our project will take place within.  Thus, we have the potential to enhance 8,871 acres of wetlands in the Big Creek basin by providing a technical report that details best management practices for Wood Duck habitat in this region.  Further, the Long Point area is a UNESCO world biosphere region and a designated RAMSAR site.


Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Scott Petrie, PhD, Executive Director, Long Point Waterfowl, Port Rowan, Ontario.