There are three ways farmers can help California’s wild duck population during breeding season.
ENROLL FIELDS IN EGG RESCUE PROGRAM
Do you see ducks flying in and out of your fields during the spring? If so, they’re probably building nests.
Granting CWA biologists, staff and volunteers access to your fields during the spring before you harvest, mow or do pre-planting ground work lets us to save eggs that would otherwise be destroyed by farm machinery.
If you’re willing to rescue eggs yourself as your equipment moves through the field, we will give you egg crates and instructions on how to best care for the eggs until a pick up or drop off can be arranged.
For information about how to enroll in this FREE program, email Waterfowl Biologist Jason Coslovich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROVIDE SAFE NESTING HABITAT
If you are fallowing any fields, cover crops such as vetch or oats can provide critical nesting cover for mallards and other ground-nesting birds.
Cover crops also slow erosion, improve soil, smother weeds and enhance nutrient and moisture availability. They can also increase overall farm profitability through increased yields, reduced fertilizer costs and less weed management.
IMPLEMENT WILDLIFE-FRIENDLY HARVESTING TECHNIQUES
You can mount flushing bars on the front of tractors or self-propelled haybines. These devices create a disturbance in front of your machinery, giving nesting hens a little more time to escape. Nests will likely still be destroyed, but many hens will re-nest. For more information, click here.
You can also alter harvesting routes for hay and wheat. Instead of harvesting from the outside of a field in, which tends to concentrate birds at the center, harvesting from the inside out gives them a chance to escape to adjacent cover.
Mowing can destroy nests, eggs, and adult birds because ground-nesting females that are incubating eggs are extremely reluctant to leave their nests. We recommend delaying mowing as long as possible if during the peak nesting season. If you can’t do that, you can operate equipment at a slower rate – swathers and mowers moving at 12+ mph give nesting hens very little time to react and fly clear of her nest.