Written Paper

Nest boxes facilitate local-scale conservation of common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) in Alberta, Canada  [2011]

Robert M. Corrigan Garry J. Scrimgeour Cynthia Paszkowski

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We tested the general predictions of increased use of nest boxes and positive trends in local populations of Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) following the large-scale provision of nest boxes in a study area of central Alberta over a 16-year period. Nest boxes were rapidly occupied, primarily by Common Goldeneye and Bufflehead, but also by European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). After 5 years of deployment, occupancy of large boxes by Common Goldeneye was 82% to 90% and occupancy of small boxes by Bufflehead was 37% to 58%. Based on a single-stage cluster design, experimental closure of nest boxes resulted in significant reductions in numbers of broods and brood sizes produced by Common Goldeneye and Bufflehead. Occurrence and densities of Common Goldeneye and Bufflehead increased significantly across years following nest box deployment at the local scale, but not at the larger regional scale. Provision of nest boxes may represent a viable strategy for increasing breeding populations of these two waterfowl species on landscapes where large trees and natural cavities are uncommon but wetland density is high.