Maryland Wood Duck Initiative - A Total Wetland Experience
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Request to Obtain
Private Box Program Data

Private Wood Duck Nest Box Survey

October 19, 2012

MWDI would like to identify the total number of functional wood duck boxes in Maryland and your assistance is requested. Many of you have been kind enough to keep me informed of your program results from time to time and Iíd now like to capture that data in a more organized manner for the reasons cited below.

A recent review of USF&Wís estimates for Marylandís wood duck population, breeding pairs and harvest indicates a decline in each of these areas of roughly 50% over the past decade. The statistics have inherent limitations, especially in any one year, but trend estimates are generally considered more reliable, especially for harvest estimates which are primarily based on band recoveries as opposed to random plot surveys. As a result, MWDI wants to expand its empirical data set to help evaluate the validity of these negative trends and to improve perceptions of Marylandís overall wood duck status.

  • Based on MWDI public box results and a general knowledge of several private programs totaling some 3,000 boxes, artificial nest programs may account for more than 30% of Marylandís estimated breeding pairs in 2011. There are estimated to be more than 3,000 additional functional nest boxes in Maryland. Thus, this percentage could be substantially higher. Even if USF&Wís estimate might be substantially understated, this situation does suggest that artificial nest programs could be abnormally meaningful to Marylandís wood duck population.

  • Based on USF&W harvest projections, it is plausible that Marylandís artificial nest programs may produce 100% of Marylandís annual harvest after considering survival aspects. If true, Maryland might be unique in that regard.

  • A significantly expanded empirical data set should have other useful aspects that may help understand wood duck ecology over time even if correlation of these use and productivity measures cannot be readily utilized in USF&Wís current resource management methodologies. However, long term data collection and a consistent monitoring approach should increasingly have some relevance as current methods have serious limits especially when trying to evaluate populations on regional levels below ďtotal flywayĒ scenarios.

  • A 1997 initiative by USF&W concluded that nest box data were not suitable as a tool for resource management for several reasons although further data collection and review was recommended.

  • For brevity, I have not included all the trend data, charts and referenced caveats. referred to but will generate them and post on the website before long.

    MWDI requests, on a confidential basis, the following:

  • The number of functional boxes you manage and county location.

  • Box use and results (i.e. the number successful)

  • Hatch estimates for successful nests plus any history if you maintain it.

  • General habitat type- flooded wetlands, ponds, rivers, streams, etc.

  • Any other qualitative data you may wish to share.

  • If you do not collect nest results but do maintain the boxes, this information is still quite useful as we can segment boxes into various categories for estimation purposes. Our goal is primarily to identify the Maryland nest box functioning population and not worry about monitoring and reporting nuances of the program sponsors.

    Please help by taking the survey: Go to:

    Private Wood Duck Nest Box Survey

    If you would like to discuss this, please call me at 703-447-5142 or email at

    Thank you for consideration and assistance.

    Maryland Wood Duck Initiative logo & Photo Collage

    This page updated on July 24, 2012