Nestboxes provide greater predator protection and thus nesting success for wood ducks Aix sponsa in Illiinois, USA

  • Published source details Bellrose F.C., Johnson K.L. & Meyers T.U. (1964) Relative value of natural cavities and nesting houses for wood ducks. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 28, 661-676


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use artificial nests that discourage predation

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Provide artificial nesting sites for wildfowl

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Use artificial nests that discourage predation

    A replicated, controlled study from 1958-1961 in multiple woodlots in Illinois, USA (Bellrose et al. 1964) found that wood ducks Aix sponsa had higher nesting success in nest boxes, compared to natural cavities (71% success for 574 metal nest boxes vs. 37% for 116 natural cavities). As racoon Procyon lotor predation accounted for most nest loss, the authors conclude that metal nest boxes provided some protection from predation. This study is also discussed in ‘Provide artificial nest sites’.


  2. Provide artificial nesting sites for wildfowl

    A replicated, controlled study from 1958-1961 in multiple woodlots containing nestboxes (114 ha in total) and 1 woodlot containing all natural cavities (9.3 ha) in Illinois, USA (Bellrose et al. 1964), found that wood duck Aix sponsa breeding pair density increased from 10-15 to over 90 pairs during the study period. Ducks exhibited higher nest success in nestboxes (71% success for 574 metal nest boxes vs. 37% for 116 natural cavities), although a smaller proportion were occupied (48% compared 23% occupation), probably due to lower racoon Procyon lotor predation (see ‘Use artificial nests that discourage predation’). Female wood ducks usually returned to the nesting areas where they last bred successfully, so the authors suggest that nest boxes should be grouped into units (2-3 per ha in high-quality habitat were recommended). Most nestboxes were metal cylinders with elliptical entrances.


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