MWDI’s mission is to enhance Maryland’s Wood Duck population and to generate a greater appreciation of the wetland habitats in which they live by advocating and demonstrating a “Best Practices” approach in artificial nest box programs. Educational and other youth oriented activities which complement the “Total Wetland Experience” are increasingly being incorporated into our projects.
Beginning in late 2004, this all volunteer effort has made some notable strides. Field operations began in Kent Co. at the Eastern Neck Federal Wildlife Refuge, Chesapeake Farms – Dupont’s conservation property and at MD DNR’s Millington WMA. Since then, MWDI’s scope has grown to 85 public project sites in 2012, up from 20 during the 2004 nest season. More than 1,700 boxes are now involved on these sites and a Best Practices resource management approach is now either in effect or being implemented at each participating site.
Box capacity on public sites has grown more modestly despite the increase in project sites as many old boxes are being replaced to upgrade housing quality or removed from existing sites to de-cluster the program design so that productivity can be enhanced. Strategic placement (re-locations) and predator protection have also being upgraded. As a result, productivity of each functional box has been substantially improved and further gains are expected.
MWDI’s statewide collaborators are currently the MD Dept of Natural Resources’ Wildlife & Heritage Service (MD DNR), the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&W) and Ducks Unlimited, Inc. (Collaborating Partners). Many other wildlife and conservation organizations are directly involved in MWDI’s efforts and collaborate in a variety of ways. MWDI has received exemplary cooperation and support of many Federal, State and County organizations and their employees. Currently, more than 100 organizations and private program sponsors are participating.
Funding & Operational Support
Recent wood purchases have been made possible by donations from Field & Stream Magazine and Toyota in conjunction with their Heroes of Conservation program and the selection of Cliff Brown as a 2012 Finalist. The Chesapeake Chapter of the Safari Club International is also a strong supporter as are the Chestertown Wildlife Exhibition & Sale and the Patuxent State Park Jug Bay 5 K Run among others.
Used street sign poles are salvaged with cooperation from the MD State Highway Administration at various locations. Predator guard supply has been cost effectively arranged and a sole source now established via the Maryland Waterfowlers Association. See: Predator Guards For Sale - $15 each.
Annual Nesting Survey of Maryland's Public Lands
A MD DNR / MWDI joint survey to identify all Maryland nest boxes was initiated in September 2012 . The goal is expand our empirical data base and to use the data to develop improved perceptions about the validity of USF&W estimates and methodologies. See: MWDI Seeks Nesting Data on all Maryland Nest Box Programs.
An important feature of the Public Lands Survey has been to identify and quantify the other desirable “Creatures” that use artificial nesting structures intended for wood ducks. A conservative 12% use was documented. With the exception of screech owls, these nest box occupants are often supplemental users and not typically direct competitors.
Hooded Merganser Nests Located
Various research projects have been initiated which will increasingly become statistically significant over time. The re-cycled Freon canister nesting program and use of horizontal nest boxes as starling deterrents are examples.
Internships for five high school individuals have been managed and a temperature study on Freon canisters was conducted by another student on behalf of MWDI. Presentations to various schools and collaboration with others on their respective field programs have occurred. MWDI has also arranged with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to provide a one year free subscription to NWF’s award winning children’s magazine, Ranger Rick, to all MWDI youth volunteers. See our various Activity Reports for current highlights of youth oriented events.
Wood Duck Program Support
MWDI assists private programs in many ways. Site inspections, project evaluations and tactical advice have been routinely provided to more than 100 projects. MWDI aggregates lumber orders between public and private programs to obtain excellent wholesale cedar prices for both parties and then obtains volunteer labor to cut up the boards into kits at no charge. Occasionally, MWDI has arranged for kids to make the kits into boxes for certain programs who pay the kids for this service. At other times, when MWDI has obtained a small supply of used boxes that do not conform to our program designs, we have given them to private sponsors to repair and utilize in good habitat.
In early 2008, the J.M. Tawes Technology & Career Center fabricated 29 boxes which MWDI helped sell to private programs. Funds received by Tawes will now support a 50 box program available to the private sector in the fall of 2009 – the selling logistics for which MWDI will handle for Tawes. Predator guard supply has been cost effectively arranged and a sole source now established via the Maryland Waterfowlers Association. See: Predator Guards For Sale - $15 each. Our primary limitation is time in helping private program sponsors but many of these individuals are also some of our best volunteers.
While MWDI’s website, www.mwdi.net, has many content areas to more fully develop, we hope you get a good perception of our direction and intent from what is currently on display.
Visit MWDI on FaceBook. Here you can add photos and comment on your project or experiences in the field. Click on link below to access:
For more information and to get on the email distribution list, contact Cliff Brown, Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 703-447-5142.
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