There is one month left to go with the Nestcam project. The University of North Dakota (UND) and Ducks Unlimited interns have been working since mid-May, and the project is set to complete at the end of July. A few interns are set to leave earlier, but two of them will stay on the ranch and continue to collect data.
At any given time, there are five cameras rolling at each ranch. The interns report there are more nests this year than last, and they saw a couple good hatches this season. They are not without their challenges, however. Recently, technical issues with their cameras briefly halted some of their work.
Mason Lombard, a communications intern for the project, said there are around 250 nests on the two research plots. However, most of those nests go unobserved, because they belong to waterfowl species not included in the study. The interns only set up cameras on nesting blue-winged teals and mallards.
The team records and observes nest behavior with the help of UND and DU research biologists. Members of the Nestcam team are working through their weekends watching tape, collecting video and writing posts for their blog.
Ducks Unlimited and UND launched the internship program in 2015 to offer field experience to undergraduate fish and wildlife students. Field work is often required for entry-level wildlife jobs. The partners wanted to provide students hands-on experience developing and carrying out their own field research project. Ultimately, this experience should help them to obtain jobs or graduate positions in the future.