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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Advantages to late breeding in Ruddy ducks Somerville, Alison Joan


Ruddy Ducks in the Chilcotin parklands of British Columbia nest in late June, July and early August, later than most other waterfowl species breeding in southwestern British Columbia, Canada. This thesis considers factors that may affect the timing of breeding in Ruddy Ducks by comparing Ruddy Ducks to Barrow's Goldeneye and Bufflehead (species that breed early but do not renest) and to American Coot (a species that breeds early and is able to renest). These factors include predation, flooding and desertion of nests, feeding behavior of ducklings, abundance of food, availability of green vegetation and fluctuations in temperature. Possible advantages of late breeding include reduced nest predation and higher ambient temperature during incubation. Longer dive durations and more frequent feeding and resting by Ruddy ducklings may enable ducklings to maximize energy for growth. Reduced nest flooding late in the season, dependence on green vegetation for nesting and greater abundance of food for young in summer were not demonstrated by this study. Therefore, these factors apparently do not explain the timing of breeding in Ruddy Ducks in southwestern British Columbia. Despite insufficient time to renest and shorter time for ducklings to mature before ponds freeze, the average number of 2B age class young produced per pair of Ruddy Ducks was similar to that of American Coots. Forty percent of nesting Ruddy females did not hatch any young, whereas almost all nesting Coot females successfully hatched young; however, survival of Ruddy ducklings to 2B age class (four weeks old) was higher than that of American Coots, Barrow's Goldeneye and Bufflehead.

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