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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anybody have any experience constructing and installing hen nest structures that Delta details on their website?

http://www.deltawaterfowl.org/ddp/henhouses/build.html

My neighbor and I are going to install two or three in our local emergent wetland. The blueprint looks self-explanatory, but any advice to help out on the ol' learning curve would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I think that these houses are great in theory, however I would be very interested in the utilization rate of these houses? The majority of these nest/houses that I have seen have been vacant each spring/summer.
 

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I think they have a lot more success using a hen house in an area where the upland cover just isn't there. I believe that DU Canada uses a lot of these on there projects in Sask, AB, and Man. because they just don't have the luxury of having a program like CRP. In ND, the natural cover is there, so there is naturally going to be less use of the hen houses.
 

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Good point Decoyer. I have a limited knowledge of biology (I leave the G&F to decide what's best), but in particular areas that lack CRP, hen houses can be productive. It all depends on habitat. Considering that hens make their nests distances away from sloughs, they have to choose more productive areas in the Prarie Pothole Region or they settle for more suitable enviroments such as hen houses.

My opinion is what it is...but I assume that hen houses would be more productive in areas such as the Red River Valley with less habitat than an area in Cen. Nodak with more cover.

But don't feel like you're doing wrong. Any efforts by individuals to increase production is beneficial to all.

I'd personally put in some money and effort for houses in my areas, but their production is already extremely high as is. Have you ever seen Bartheloumea Slough in September??? That slough is STACKED with ducks, so the cover is producing good broods as is.

Keep up the good work.
 

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Pluse those on Bartheloumea can eat corn all summer long from the cow feeders, man they have life made there until opening day when the whole slough is surrounded by hunters.
 

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In my experience with the hen houses,the utilization rate starts out low and picks up over a few years.They came up with the idea because upland nesters such as mallards were getting hammered by predators.With nesting success rates at about 10% on the uplands delta came up with the hen house where success rates are much higher.Another biologist improved the success rates by adding a nest basket to the top.The idea was to get canada geese to nest on top and ducks in the tubes(not many predators will take on a nesting canada goose).Nesting success rates for these structures soared as a result.
 

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I helped make and install several hundreds of these in the early/mid 90's. We installed them at Kelly's Slough, Turtle River and Rock Lake, ND. They achieved some success the first year but it increased considerably the following years. Like anything else though they have to be maintained/replaced. I'll have to dig up the percentages and see what they were exactly.

f
 

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Hey kid,Did you build the floating houses or the kind that are built on a post?Also did you make a nest basket on top for honkers to nest in?I remember that nesting success when canadas nested on the top with ducks in the tubes was almost allways 100%.
 

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As you guys mentioned there is no doubt that these nesting houses are well worth the effort no matter the utilization rate. Even a 10% utilization rate can ensure that there are more birds in the air each year. Mallard, I'd be interested in getting more information about the combo nests will the great success rates, even if only 10% are fully utilized a 100% success rate is phenomenal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dakotakid:

Do you have any advice on placement within a wetland? The wetland we are going to place them in is a restored wetland in a residential neighborhood. The adjacent buffer area contains minimal cover and the City mows a large percentage of the area for fire prevention. The wetland is emergent and is primarily dominated by cattails and bulrush. Any other knowledge/information would be greatly appreciated.
 

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We rolled them using chicken wire and hay and mounted them on a post. We put them up in late winter when the ice was getting bad and punching thru the ice was easier. We hammered the posts in using your standard fence post pounder. Waders are a must as its a messy job! We hauled all the posts and houses around on a 4-wheeler.

We primarily tried to put them up in small brood ponds/sloughs (approx an acre) with a good grass/cattail border and water deep enough to at least last thru most of the summer. We had tremendous success in these types of settings. Its important to put these up in an area where the ducklings can take cover and feel protected.

We also put some up in bigwater settings. If I remember correctly, we did not experience success as quickly in these settings. However, the third year, (I think 96, 97) when things got real wet, they were filled with hens and the damn houses were only a few inches off the water because it was so high. We normally mounted the houses 2-3 feet off the water but it varied depending on the situation.

Maintenance is critical to keeping them productive. We did not take them down from year to year but rather just went around and refilled them with straw/hay and tightened the wire connecting the house to the wooden platform.

Wind is a factor, especially on the prairies, so ensure that you place them so the ends are not open to the prevailing wind direction.

I'm sure I've forgotten something but feel free to ask away.

Good luck!

f
 
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