Finland is an important breeding area for numerous European ducks. Therefore, we have a great responsibility to take care of natural breeding sites as well as to protect birds against alien predators. The loss of productive sites and predation are the biggest threats to waterfowl in Finland.
In the past seven decades, agricultural use of land has drained off a significant portion of bogs and natural wetlands. Loss of natural wetlands combined with invasive predators such as the raccoon-dog and American mink has caused notable declines for waders and ducks. The difficult unpredictable effects of climate change increase the negative consequences for waterfowl and the whole ecological system.
Finnish Hunters’ Association honored Wetlands Day by setting new duck tubes to Sammalistonsuo wetlands. The tubes were made by 4H hunting and fishing youth club members led by Hunters’ Associations waterfowl specialists.
The frozen conditions serve Finnish duck nest activities well. Late winter is an optimal time to drill holes thru the ice and set poles into the shallow water bottom. The nest tubes are then attached on to top of poles. Both nest poles have predator guards even though they are placed on the water.
The new nest tubes were set visible to people to allow us to follow how they are welcomed by the end users. The wetland site has some 250 different kinds of man made bird boxes. Most are for smaller birds but there are also off the ground boxes for goldeneyes, ground boxes for common pochard and now five new duck tubes for mallards or for the common coot. We will follow and report the results of our nesting project. So far, the site's nest tubes have been a great success with mallards.
Sammalistonsuo is located next to Riihimäki city about 70 km north of the capital city of Helsinki. The area covers over 20 hectares of an old peat extraction site. This region of south-west Finland has less natural open waters than the eastern parts. Therefore man made wetlands can help gather a wide variety of waders, ducks and shorebirds.
Sammalistonsuo wetlands were made to filter and clean the surrounding areas' drainage waters and to be a diverse habitat for birds. After two decades of development, it is now one of the top wetlands in the southern Finland region. The area is managed by the local nature conservation club, BirdLife and by local hunters. Local hunters are specially focused on catching invasive alien predators to secure breeding times.
The Finnish Hunters’ Association also uses parts of the site for sustainable waterfowling by local young hunters.