Wildlife - Waterfowl Project Report

April 2005

Governor's Wood Duck Project

The Statewide Wood Duck Nest Box Project was initiated in 1982 and funded with state duck stamp revenues through 2001-02. The project was renamed in 2004 becoming the Governor’s Wood Duck Project. In 2004-05 the project received an infusion of private funding allowing construction and distribution of nest box units to requesting landowners after a hiatus of distributing new boxes during 2003 and 2004 due the need to direct SC duck stamp revenue to other waterfowl program areas. Ducks Unlimited, Inc. provided substantial funding to rejuvenate this project.

The project provides nest boxes, poles and predator guards to landowners having suitable wood duck production and brood-rearing habitat. Project cooperators voluntarily submit nest box data yielding minimum annual wood duck productivity estimates, in turn, providing valuable information on the status of wood ducks in SC as well as trends in wood duck production. The project supports hands-on private landowner waterfowl and wetland conservation and education opportunities for waterfowl enthusiasts and family members.

A total of 986 wood duck nest box units were distributed to 131 cooperators prior to the 2005 wood duck nesting period. Through this project, a total of 30,032 nest box units have been issued to 4,059 cooperators since 1982. Annual and cumulative distribution of wood duck nest box units are summarized respectively in Tables XI and XII.

Wood duck production data reported in 2004 from inspected nest boxes are summarized by county in Table XIII. Comparative reported annual production data, 1982-2004, are depicted in Table XIV. After the 2004 wood duck nesting season, 493 of 1,635 active cooperators (30.2%) provided data on 3,818 units (13.1% of allocated units). Figures 7 and 8 depict cooperator reporting and reporting rates 1982-2004. Due to there being no infusion of new cooperators into the project during 2003 and 2004 cooperator reporting decreased (-17.9%) from 2003. A total of 2,519 nest boxes (66.0% of the reported available) were reported utilized by wood ducks, representing an increase in reported utilization rate (+2.%) from 2003. A total of 2,140 nests were reported to be successful (85.0%) in 2004 producing a reported 16,989 wood ducklings from 25,771 eggs (Figure 9) representing an increase in successful nesting (+2.4) from 2003.

Since project data represent minimum estimates, actual wood duck production from the project exceeds these estimates. The fledgling rate of wood ducklings in 2004 was 65.9% of the reported eggs laid representing an increase (+1.7%) in fledgling from 2003. Wood duck production indices indicated increased wood duck production during 2003 and 2004 breaking a 4-year trend associated with prolonged drought from 1999 through 2002.