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Michigan State UniversityWildlife Toxicology Laboratory

Tittabawasse River Wildlife Banner Photo

Cavity-nesting Waterfowl

Student monitoring a duck nest boxTwo common cavity-nesting waterfowl species that nest along the Tittabawassee River are the wood duck and the hooded merganser. These cavity-nesting waterfowl nest early in the spring season and either use natural cavities in trees or the larger artificial “duck” nest boxes we placed along the river in appropriate habitat.

The wood duck is associated with floodplain forests and forages primarily on insects, nuts and other vegetation, while the hooded merganser primarily consumes forage fish and is more likely to be found on larger bodies of open water.

The nest boxes were placed on many properties from Sanford, Michigan, to the Woodland Trail access point of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge property in 2004 and monitored for some productivity measures but mostly for contaminant concentrations in collected egg samples.

Sample analyses for contaminants identified exposure levels and possible routes of exposure based on species-specific foraging behaviors which allowed us to assess the risk to these species from current exposure to site-specific contaminants.

Cavity-nesting Waterfowl Species