Potpourri of Activity

Newly Hatched Wood Ducks

Published on: Apr. 3, 2012

As March Madness comes to a close, a couple of different tidbits of news have come through that might be of interest to you.

Breeding Ducks

Last week on March 26 the first clutch of wood ducks hatched within our set of monitored nest boxes at Duck Creek. This is atypical for a couple of reasons. First of all, this is really early for wood ducks. In the past, an early hatch would be during the first few weeks of April, so pushing the first hatch date into March is extremely early. Secondly, hooded mergansers at Duck Creek typically precede wood ducks in hatching. This year, however, the hooded mergansers are trailing the wood ducks. The first monitored hooded merganser clutch to hatch occurred yesterday, April 3.

Long-Distance Hooded Merganser Dispersal

Once the little ducklings hatch, they leave the tree cavity or nest box within 24 hours. Peter Blums, who has been monitoring the birds at Duck Creek for the past 17 years, puts bands on these little ducks before they leave the nest. He uses distinct bands with a special clay lining on the inside that will wear off as the duck grows into the leg band. This enables us to know not only where the bird goes, but also where it originated.

Recently, Peter received a report on a young bird that he banded last year from Pool 2. Apparently, this young male was shot in December around Caldwell, Canyon County, Idaho. Caldwell happens to be in the Pacific Flyway along the Idaho/Oregon border some 1,465 miles away as the crow flies (Or should I say as the hooded merganser flies?).

Although hooded mergansers breed on both the east and west coasts and they do utilize other portions of the United States during migration, the dispersal of this bird is extremely rare. Peter believes the Bird-Banding Lab probably only has a couple of other recoveries documenting this kind of direct movement between eastern and western populations of hooded mergansers.

New Record Bowfin Caught

While some may consider the little snippets above just for the birds, here’s something for the anglers out there. On March 23, David Warren caught an 11-pound, 4-ounce bowfin out of Pool 1. His catch is a new alternative method (archery) state record bowfin, which beats the old record by a couple of pounds. The old record was a 9-pound, 2-ounce fish set in 1995.

Congratulations, David, on your great catch!

In a related bit of Duck Creek trivia, the largest bowfin caught in Missouri was back in 1963 when Clois Coomer caught a 19-pounder pole and line out of Pool 1.

For everyone else, there are still records to be set and still more fish in Pool 1. With the weather so beautiful, you’ll be hard pressed to find a decent excuse not to get out on the area.

Duck Creek Renovation Work

In regards to the renovation work at Duck Creek, we’ll see how this spring shapes up. If conditions stay dry, the contractors will move back in and start chipping away at their remaining punch list for Units A and B. Within the department, we are getting permits in line and engineering schematics drawn up to move a few things forward this summer. Once things begin to firm up we will let you know what to expect. Thanks again for your support and use of the area.

Key Messages: 

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.

Comments

On April 23rd, 2012 at 4:42pm MattB said:

Darin, No updates on the construction as of Monday the 23rd.  Last week, myself and Keith took a day to run around Unit A/B and make some management decisions and try to make a plan of attack for this summer.  It seems that the lack of a true drawdown on the area has left us with quite a bit of vegetation that is not favorable for waterfowl use (not a surprise to anyone).  However, we did find a few pockets of good moist-soil vegetation to leave, and we plan to disk up quite a bit of the remaining unit to keep the undesirable vegetation at bay.  If all goes as planned we'll also be planting a few corn food plots.  Before we do this we'll need to discuss plans with the contractors and make sure we keep these food plots out of their way.  Since there are no guarantees that we will have a finished product come October, we will keep the number of food plots down, but the disturbance that these food plots require allow us to fight some of the undesirable plants on the area.  One of those plants is Bermuda grass, and we will be taking this species on once again this year with the sprayer and disk.  With a little luck, continued good weather, and lots of cooperation we are hopeful that come October, we'll have Unit A/B back up and functioning as a managed waterfowl unit.  It won't be perfect, but I’m hopeful that we'll have some areas to hunt!

On April 19th, 2012 at 12:04pm Darin said:

Any updates on construction yet? I drove up in the A unit and seen for the first time the renovations. I also seen a few pairs of Canada Geese using the area. This is a good sign!!!! Also seen some blue wing teal using the area also.

On April 6th, 2012 at 1:55pm cordek said:

I have not encountered any records from Ike Smith at Duck Creek.  I sure would like to find them.  I will check with our Fisheries Biologist and ask him if he has any knowledge of  them.  I found a nice website on bowfin with recipes of how to cook them. http://www.bowfinanglers.com/recipes.html

On April 6th, 2012 at 12:14am MattB said:

Darin, like most ducks, wood ducks will renest if their nest is destroyed prior to hatching.  For the most part once a wood duck is successful in raising a brood they are done for the year.  However, there are some rare instances especially in more southern latitudes where a secod nest will be initiated.  In the early 1980s, Leigh Fredrickson did some research on this very subject at Duck Creek CA.  He found that of the 1,626 nests that they examined 35 of them were a second nest initiated by a female that had successfully raised a brood previously in the same year.  Most of the second nests initiated were by females two years or older as they would most likely be in better condition than 1 year old birds.  We'll check with Dr. Blums and see if he has any other data that would support Leigh's findings.  Great question, thanks for your interest in Duck Creek.

On April 5th, 2012 at 9:26pm Anonymous said:

Congrats to David on his big bowfin catch !! As a young man i caught a 12lb bowfin (grinnel) on a single spin and enjoyed the battle, but hated the taste....i'm sure there's a good way to cook them, but not that i ever tasted. Ike Smith used to keep track of fish caught from Duck Creek back in the 60's & 70's....do you have any of his "record catches" from Duck Creek??....he was a true joy to spend time with as a youngster.

On April 5th, 2012 at 8:06pm Darin said:

I am glad to see that things are shaping up on the area. Even the ducks are getting a jump start this year. I do have one question: Do wood ducks nest more than once a year or do they nest more? Thanks for the answer!!
Shortened URL
http://mdc.mo.gov/node/17448