The Effects of Corn Ear Declination on Waterfowl Forage Availability in Unharvested Flooded Corn Fields
Managing for non-breeding waterfowl throughout the winter requires managers to provide enough forage resources to meet the energetic demands of waterfowl recovering from autumn migration, maintaining body condition during winter, and preparing for spring migration. During the winter months (November to March), waterfowl species, such as the mallard (Anas Platyhrynchos), rely on calorie-dense food sources to meet their energetic demands. Many waterfowl species readily consume agricultural seeds, such as corn (Zea mays), grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), millet (Echinochloa spp), soybeans (Glycine max), and rice (Oryza spp), to fulfill their energetic requirements. In western Tennessee, public and private land managers often flood unharvested corn fields to provide forage for wintering waterfowl. The availability of forage within unharvested flooded corn fields is affected by several factors including distance of corn ear to water and ear declination. We measure foraging intensity, ear distance to water and ear declination by repeatedly surveying 30 unharvested, flooded corn fields in western Tennessee at two-week intervals throughout the winter (October-March). The analysis is ongoing and will be done before poster presentations. We hope that by determining the factors influencing forage availability we will allow wetland managers to improve forage availability for wintering waterfowl.