Downed nest box proves deadly to Ohio turtles

By on December 7, 2011

When standing upright, nesting boxes provide a place for cavity-nesting birds to lay their eggs. Tipped over, they become useless to birds and deadly to turtles. Denis Conover, Educator Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati published “Tipped Over Duck Nest Box Traps Turtles in a Restored Wetland (Ohio)” after discovering dead turtles surrounding a downed nest box in Miami Whitewater Forest.The forest contains 130-acres of restored wetlands, home to wood ducks, hooded mergansers and many species of turtle. Painted, snapping and box turtles crawled inside the box after it fell, but many did not make it back out. Though these species are not endangered in Ohio, the rare spotted turtle, found in other Ohio wetlands, could also be affected by the popular nest boxes.

To reduce turtle deaths, Conover stressed that nest boxes should be checked more frequently. This would also ensure that the boxes are available for nesting birds.

“Our goal is to reduce suffering and death of turtles by warning land managers about the threat to turtles that downed duck nest boxes can pose,” Conover wrote in the paper.


Image credit: Denis Conover & Karen Cody, University of Cincinnati

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