Waterfowl Habitat Management
Waterfowl require several types of habitats and foods to meet
their needs during winter. Waterfowl tend to remain longer in areas
with habitat complexes than in areas with single habitat types.
Small-grain fields can provide important habitat for wintering
waterfowl. Although croplands are the habitat type most frequently
developed by private landowners, small grains do not provide a
nutritionally complete diet for waterfowl. Naturally occurring seeds
from plants associated with wetlands regularly survive flooding for
several months or even years, whereas grains such as corn, Japanese
millet, milo, and soybeans deteriorate rapidly when flooded continuously
for 90 days or more. Grassy-weedy areas are important
because native plants, such as grasses, sedges, and smartweeds,
supply essential nutrients. Forested wetlands fulfill special waterfowl
habitat requirements not provided by open lands. Wooded
habitats produce nutritious foods for waterfowl and provide them
with secure roosting areas.
The natural flooding of wetlands provides ducks access to fallen
acorns and other seeds. Waterfowl use areas longer if the entire area
is flooded over a long period of time versus short-term flooding.
When creating waterfowl areas through the use of terraces, crops,
and artificial flooding, it is best to avoid placing levees or terraces in
the annual floodplain, since they are high-risk management areas.
Levees and terraces in the annual floodplain are impediments to
natural water flows can be harmful to natural wetlands. Any water
control structures should be developed above the one year floodplain
to hold 1-18 inches (preferably 4-8) of water. Low level terraces on
well drained, gently sloping or nearly flat farmland can be highly
productive for waterfowl foods and hunting success.
Important Waterfowl Foods:
Barnyard grass, sedges, smartweed, foxtail, Japanese millet,
browntop millet, grain sorghum, corn, Fall panicum, hairy crabgrass,
beggarticks, spike rush, pondweed, acorns, pearl millet, wild millet,
nutsedge, and aquatic insects
The Link Below Provides Additional Information
University of Tennessee Publication,
"A Guide to Successful Wildlife Food Plots".