A project to encourage ducks to nest along the Deschutes River in downtown Bend got a boost today from students on their day off from school.
For five years, students have been installing and repairing duck nesting tubes on the riverbanks and islands in the Old Mill District and the First Street Rapids.
On Monday, students paddled canoes and waded through shallow areas to see if ducks are using the tubes, and to refresh the nesting materials.
“We are refilling duck nests with hay so they have the stuff they need to nest,” said Arthur Yenowine and Miles Rydstrom, Boy Scouts in Troop 21.
This conservation work will help them advance in rank.
The tubes are made of rolled up fencing with layers of hay to provide shelter and cover.
The nesting tubes are elevated off the ground to protect duck eggs from predators.
“If they figure out how to use it, they jump up there, they lay their eggs. The clutch is born up there. Instead of raccoons or whatever eating the eggs when they are on the ground, they are able to hatch,” said Christ Dittman, Ducks Unlimited area chairman. “Their success rate goes up dramatically once their eggs actually hatch and jump out the tube. They are never going back in the tube but once they are out their success rate goes up a lot.”
The goals of the duck nesting tube project are to increase the number of hatchlings that survive to adulthood, and get young people involved in conservation work.
“I’m the one who paddles and takes the pin (from the nesting tube stands),” said Nick Kuhn, Bend. “I’m just glad that I’m here.”
The students inspect the nests for signs of use before bringing them to shore to refresh the nesting materials.
Students found evidence of ducks using some of the tubes, the first indications that they are working as intended.
“That’s really the first evidence of use that we’ve seen,” Dittman said. “We’ve seen a duck fly out of one before. We saw some eggshells in there. Some downy feathers which is evidence they are actually using it as a nest. Great evidence.”
Most mallard ducks nest in California and Mexico but there are some local ducks that do not migrate, and the nesting tubes are intended for them.