The Scaly-sided Merganser Mergus squamatus has a very small population which is undergoing a continuing and rapid decline as a result of illegal hunting, driving in the fishing nets and logging. It is listed as Endangered under the IUCN Red List of threatened species and is endemic to the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Deforestation in the breeding range is a key threat to this species, as they only breed in Big Tree holes near pristine rivers. The absence of available big tree holes, which the bird nests in, has lead to the decreased breeding success.
In order to increase the productivity of Scaly-sided Mergansers, artificial nests were provided along fifteen rivers of Primorye in Russia between 2000 and 2019. According to continuous studies, apparent nesting success rate was around 70% in 2003-2017, and a total of 1641 ducklings reliably hatched in artificial nests during 2002–2019. The artificial nest programme is proving to be an efficient way to increase the productivity of this endangered species.
Artificial nest box © Alexander Yakovlev
However, the duration of a nest box could not exceed more than 8 years in general, so constant replacement of the nest boxes is of vital importance to conserve Scaly-sided Mergansers. The earliest installed artificial nests were worn out and not useful for the bird and it now needs your support.
An idea of individual support to produce nest boxes was raised by Dr. Woei-Horn Fang during the Second International Scaly-sided Merganser Action Planning Workshop, held on September 2015 in Vladivostok, Russia. Since then, nine people/institutions provided support for an additional nine nest boxes/tubes to be built and placed along the rivers in Primorye, the core breeding area for the Scaly-sided Merganser. But, this is not enough to secure breeding nest sites given the declining rate of the population.
The Scaly-sided Merganser Working Group newly launched a donation page with EAAFP seeking support for artificial nesting boxes for Scaly-sided Merganser. Click here to go to the donation page.
Everyone can contribute to give a home to Scaly-sided Merganser!
Further information go to [Scaly-sided Merganser Task Force webpage]
SSME clutch in the box #105 © Diana Solovyeva
Artificial nest box installed at the project site © Diana Solovyeva