The availability of natural cavities for cavitynesting waterfowl, especially wood ducks (Aix sponsa), was unknown ferating forest of Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, ME. An assessment of cavity availability was needed to determine if the existing nesting box program should be increased. During November to March, 199697 and 199798, I sampled 56 onehalf ha random plots, stratified into 5 types (upland hardwood, upland conifer, upland mixwood, wetland conifer, and wetland hardwood) to assess availability of trees with cavities. The predominant tree species with cavities were red maple (Acer rubrum; 39%) and aspen (Populus sp.; 31%); 72% of all trees with cavities were alive. Density ees/plot averaged from 1.0 +0.4 (x +SE) in wetland softwoods to 1.9 +0.4 in upland hardwoods. This low density of potential cavity trees and the small mean dbh (39.4 +1.6 cm) indicate a young forest with few suitable cavities. Forested areas, especially hardwoods near canopy openings, need to be allowed to mature to increase the number and quality of future cavities. An expanded nest box program seems justified.
Additional publication details
Availability of nest cavity trees for wood ducks (Aix sponsa) at Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Maine