Early hatched waterfowl are more likely to enter the breeding population. Managers' primary tool to increase nesting success in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of North America is managing upland vegetation for duck nesting cover. To determine whether managed covertypes affect early-season nesting success, we modeled seasonal variation in nesting success using >17,000 duck nests found in managed and unmanaged covertypes in prairie Canada from 1993 to 2000. Nesting success was higher in most managed covertypes than in unmanaged covertypes early in the nesting season. Planted cover appeared to be the best managed covertype for increasing early-season nesting success as it had high early-season nesting success, and was selected by nesting ducks in greater proportion than its availability; however, nesting success in planted cover declined later in the nesting season while nesting success in most unmanaged covertypes increased. Nevertheless, even with reduced nesting success late in the season, planted cover was more productive than surrounding unmanaged covertypes. Future waterfowl management efforts should focus on providing safe nesting cover early in the nesting season.
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Vol. 69 • No. 3