Artificial Dingman Creek wetland provides new home for declining duck population

The discovery of a nest belonging to a family of blue-winged teal ducks in London is being hailed as a good sign for a species declining in the region.

The nest was initially located at the Dingman Creek Erosion Control Facility over the summer by workers with Environment Canada.

The facility was constructed in 2016 by the city and is designed to act like a natural self-regulating water system and wetland, complete with fish passageways, turtle nesting sites and more.

“The number of blue-winged teal ducks breeding in Southwestern Ontario is on the decline,” said Denby Sadler, wildlife biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service.

According to the Government of Canada migratory bird page, although the population has significantly increased since the 1990s, there has been a slow decline of the species in both Ontario and Quebec.

A government of Canada report on bird population status said the breeding population of blue-winged teal has significantly declined in Southern Ontario since the 1970s and could be linked to habitat loss.

“The fact that a successful brood was just raised at the Dingman site is very encouraging and speaks to the quality of the habitat established at the Dingman Creek Erosion Control Facility,” Sadler said.

The facility is designed and constructed to act as a wetland so that when water flows are high in Dingman Creek, the wetland fills with water to reduce flows.

Shawna Chambers, division manager of stormwater engineering for the city, said the initial intent was to reduce  erosion from the stream. When they added the ecological features, however, a lot of animals became attracted to the area.

“It’s really a marriage between engineering and ecology and what is possible when we marry those two.”

Habitat features at the site include bat boxes, bird boxes, a turtle nesting site and fish passageways.

Chambers said the site is something the city is looking to do more of because of the benefits it has in dealing with flooding and climate change.

— With files from Matthew Trevithick Global News

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