A duck nest tube over water
A duck nest tube over water

Duck nest monitoring project

What is it?

Initiated by The Waterfowlers’ Network (of which BASC is a member) in 2021, the Duck Nest Monitoring Project is a citizen science project dedicated to the conservation of wild mallard populations. 

The project aims to monitor mallard breeding success when artificial nesting structures, such as raised nesting tubes or boxes, are installed at a site.

Why is this project important?

Mallard numbers are decreasing across the UK and Europe. In order to continue sustainable shooting of this species we must establish an effective way to maintain and protect our wild populations.

Mallard are ground-nesting birds and as a result, they often face disturbance such as trampling from livestock, predation, and dog walkers.

This frequently results in the destruction of the nests before the eggs have a chance to hatch.

Duck nest tubes are a great solution to this problem. By raising the nests off the ground and covering them from flying predators, the chances of nest disturbance or destruction are considerably lower, resulting in increased brood sizes and hatching success.

How do I get involved?

1. Make and install a mallard nest tube on the land you own or shoot over

Duck nest tubes are simple to set up and anyone can take part in helping to improve the wild mallard population in their area. It can take several years before the tubes are used, but don’t lose hope – once they are occupied, the ducks and their offspring will likely return year after year to nest in the same spot.

How to set up a duck nest tube:

A duck nest tube installed over a pond
Duck nest tubes are made by rolling wire mesh with hay.

2. Record as much of the following information as you can:

  • Habitat type 
  • Site location
  • Number of nest tubes installed at the site
  • Species using the nest tube (the best time to check this is from the beginning of March until the end of July)
  • What types of habitat management and predator control are currently being carried out at the site

3. Once you have recorded as much information as you can, use the Waterfowlers’ Network online form to register your findings at the end of the mallard breeding season.

We recommended that you register your findings at the end of the season (end of August) to ensure no nesting attempts are missed.

An example of an appropriate habitat to install a duck nest tube.
An example of an appropriate habitat to install a duck nest tube.

Findings so far

Duck nest tubes have been shown to improve wild mallard populations by increasing brood size and hatching success across their range.

The security and protection provided by nesting tubes can improve the chance of hatching success to 90%, compared to the less than 15% chance of success in ground nests.