Breeding pair and brood surveys suggest that duck production in the Southern High Plains can be substantial in some years, particularly for Mallards (Anas platyrynchos). Management of habitats used by nesting ducks and brood surveys could be improved with knowledge of hatching chronology. We studied hatching chronology and brood abundance of waterfowl using playa wetlands in the Southern High Plains of Texas in 2005 and 2007 (playas were dry in 2006). Broods were found on 67% (n = 36) and 79% (n = 19) of wet playas in 2005 and 2007, respectively. Broods per playa averaged 1.9 (±0.4 se) in 2005 and 3.2 (±1.0 se) in 2007. Hatching peaked during 1–15 Jun. and by 15 Jul. about 90% of broods had hatched. Delaying haying, mowing and other manipulations of upland nesting habitats until 15 Jul. should give 90% of broods a chance to reach playas. Brood abundance peaked during the two Jul. periods; production surveys conducted during Jul. should capture >70% of broods.
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Vol. 163 • No. 1