A study of dabbling duck (Anatinae) nesting was conducted during 1971-73 on nine 12- to 54-ha Cropland Adjustment Program fields in the prairie pothole region of north-central South Dakota. The tall, dense vegetation was comprised of introduced cool-season grasses and legumes, primarily smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis), intermediate wheatgrass (Agropyron intermedium), and alfalfa. Complexes of temporary, seasonal, and semipermanent wetlands surrounded the fields at densities of 1.5-8.1 basins/km2 and areas of 9.4-17.2 ha/km2. Of the 620 nests studied, 38 percent were of blue-winged teal (Anas discors), 24 percent were of mallards (A. platyrhynchos), and 24 percent were of gadwalls (A. strepera). Densities of nests of all species averaged 67, 114, and 47 nests/km2 (3-yr av 77/km2). Calculated hatching rates were 69, 58, and 32 percent (av 56) for the 3 years. Hatchability of eggs in successful nests averaged 97.1 percent. Averages of 4.0, 6.2, and 1.2 ducklings were hatched per hectare in 1971, 1972, and 1973, respectively (3-yr av 3.7/ha).
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Duck nesting in fields of undisturbed grass-legume cover