Chenoa Waterfowl
Waterfowl Sustainability through Education,
Accumulation, Propagation, and Dissemination
Waterfowl of Chenoa:
The Facility
Waterfowl Sales
Waterfowl Education
Chenoa Sales and Shipping
Ducks of the World
Chenoa Price and Availability
Duck List
Shelducks of the World
Chenoa Price and Availability
Shelduck List
True Geese of the World:
The Anser Species
Chenoa Price and Availability
True Goose List
True Geese of the World:
The Branta Species
Fowl Ideas for the Aviculturist
Includes Material Lists and Construction Plans

Waterfowl Of Chenoa:
The Facility

Mission Statement

Waterfowl Sustainability through Education,
Accumulation, Propagation, and Dissemination

Waterfowl of Chenoa is a family project of the Field family, Maurice and Carla. In addition to the personal enjoyment received by the family, from 1980 until 2006, many boys and girls of West Tennessee had an opportunity to see and study wildlife, waterfowl in particular, that they might not have been likely to see without this effort. As field trips have declined since the retirement from UT Martin of the Chenoa Waterfowl curator, attention has shifted more toward propagation of the species and an expansion of the virtual presentation of the waterfowl where physical presentation had previously been the high priority. Particular attention is being placed on the propagation of endangered species and the identification and propagation of sub species which may be lost for future generations due to less distinct migration patterns which may lead to interbreeding of the sub species.

Brief History

Waterfowl of Chenoa, founded in 1980, pursued the major goal of collecting at least one pair of each of the sixteen species of true geese and the six species of shelducks. The waterfowl associated with this goal are presented under True Geese of the World: The Anser Species, True Geese of the World: The Branta Species, and Shelducks of the World. The true geese and shelducks still serve as the focal point for Chenoa, although a significant number of ducks have been added that are featured in Ducks of the World. All of the species/sub species of waterfowl featured on the above listed links of this site were residents of Waterfowl of Chenoa when photographed unless otherwise noted.

The collection presently includes all six species of the shelducks and until January 1 of 2007 included all 16 species of true geese. Included among the 16 species of true geese were 27 of the 37 subspecies. The most recent additions were the Aleutian Canada and Tule White-fronted. After hosting the American Pheasant and Waterfowl Society (APWS) in October of 2006, the focal point changed from interpretation to propagation. As the change took place a number of the geese that were less likely to reproduce at the Tennessee facility were removed from the list of species/sub species to be supported in future years.

Ross' Geese at Waterfowl of Chenoa
Female On The Nest, Male Indicating "That Is Close Enough"

Waterfowl Areas and Practices

The taking of a photograph always has the peril that everything to be captured may not be in perfect order. On Sunday, May 23, 2004, the decision to bite that bullet was made and from the second story balcony of the Field home photographs were made. It was determined that day and time may be the best time to document for viewers of this web site the looks of Chenoa Waterfowl. Many changes have taken place since that time so on Tuesday, August 1, 2006, it seemed appropriate to redo photographs E, F, and G.

For a very long time the focus of Chenoa Waterfowl has been educational with emphasis on the true geese and shelducks. With the assumption of Professor Emeritus status (retirement) for the curator a different balance is being struck between education and propagation efforts thus physical changes of the facility are mandated. A better balance is also being achieved between true geese and shelducks holdings with the holdings of ducks. Most ducks were previously not a fit for the facility, but can now be accommodated with the construction of covered aviaries.

Photographs A, B, and C are recorded in a westerly direction. Three waterfowl structures are included. The building over which the photograph was taken is the broodery which also serves as the well house for the farm. As the ducklings, goslings, shelducklings, chickens etc. hatch they are taken to the broodery. The starter brooders are in a concrete block room that can be heated during the winter. Follow up brooders are outside that room but still in an area that is protected from wind and rain and to some degree extreme heat and cold. The third stage for the movement of the young is shown in the lower part of the third photograph. Four by eight foot pens which are two feet tall have been constructed from 1" x 2" welded wire which are anchored by treated 2" x 4" boards. They are covered with plastic for wind protection and equipped with a heat lamp controlled by a thermostat.

A second facility is a breeder aviary for ducks which structurally is made of treated wood, 1" by 2" welded wire that is six feet tall, and topped with 2 inch Toprite III netting. The structure is 50 feet wide and 105 feet long. Included is a pond which is approximately 25 feet by 35 feet which is fed by the water which has passed through a water heat pump used for heating and cooling our home. Among the ducks calling the aviary home are Chestnut Breasted teal, Chilean teal, Eurasian wigeon, Ferruginious White-eye, Green-winged teal, Laysan teal, Mandarin (White), Maned geese, Marbled teal, Wood Duck (Silver), Fulvous ducks and Black-bellied ducks.

The small breeder lake area is comprised of approximately a five acre enclosure with a 1.5 acre lake. Islands of weeds approximately ten feet wide are carved out to provide nesting areas for waterfowl not selecting one of the nest aids (A-frames, plastic barrels, and Wood duck nest boxes). The islands are separated by approximately ten feet of mowed grass. Waterfowl inhabiting this area are Mandarin (Normal), Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers, Red-Crested pochard, Rosy-Billed pochard, Bar-Headed geese, Barnacle geese, Aleutian Canada geese, Hawaiian (Nene) geese, Swan geese, Australian shelducks, Cape shelducks, Paradise shelducks, and Ruddy shelducks.

A - With North Being 12:00 You Are Looking In A 7:00 Direction

B - With North Being 12:00 You Are Looking In A 9:00 Direction

C - With North Being 12:00 You Are Looking In A 11:00 Direction

The focal point of the photograph D is the large breeder lake area which is comprised of approximately a six acre enclosure with a 3.0 acre lake. The fence is 42 inch chain link, hog ringed to a tightly stretched barbed wire at the bottom. Although repairs have been made by securing the chain link to the barbed wire by bending down a knuckle of the chain link, inserting the barbed wire and bending the knuckle back into position. A strand of electric fence is stretched along the top. The barbed wire aids in keeping digging intruders out of the enclosure, while the electric fence keeps climbers out. Experience with the system has brought to light certain areas which are challenged more often than others. The challenged areas now have been fortified by hog ringing 2 x 4 welded wire to the barbed wire. The welded wire lies flat on the ground and is weighted down where necessary to allow the grass to grow through it. Since the waterfowl share the area with Pygmy goats, cross fences are built from the perimeter out into the lake on the south and north ends of the lake. The fences are to prevent the goats from entering the west side of the area where trees and shrubs have been planted and the area is mowed into islands of weeds and grass to provide nesting sites.

Islands of weeds approximately ten feet wide are carved out on the west side to provide nesting areas for waterfowl not selecting one of the nest aids (A-frames, plastic barrels, and Wood duck nest boxes). The islands are separated by approximately ten feet of mowed grass. The south, east, and north sides are mowed in general by a small number of goats augmented by lawn mowers. Since these mowed areas are used by visitors, nesting is usually discouraged by the short grass, although some waterfowl persist such as the Ross goose under the oak tree in the photograph.

The west side includes a gravity flow feeder and nest boxes. The feeder, a Brower feeder is filled with a 17% protein waterfowl feed at least November through July. The feed is specially made for Chenoa and two other waterfowl breeders in northwest Tennessee by Tennessee Farmers Cooperative and distributed by the Weakley Farmers Co-op in Martin, Tennessee. The feed is labeled Duck Breeder #91032. Through August and September the waterfowl are normally feed 25% unground wheat with the remaining percentage being Duck Ration. The percentage of wheat is lowered as November is approached.

D - With North Being 12:00 You Are Looking In A 12:00 Direction

Freezing of the water area is often a problem during the winter months. Open water is maintained during the freezing periods by forcing air put under pressure by an air-compressor through very small holes in a black plastic pipe which is weighted to the lake bottom. Small streams of air rise through the water and keep ice from forming in a 1400 square foot area even when the temperature is as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Floating rafts have been made by cutting used telephone poles into sections 12 to 15 feet long. Two lengths of telephone pole are attached in three places with treated 2x6 pieces of lumber which are approximately 4 feet long. The rafts are anchored using a heavy chain with a swivel which allows the raft to turn in a circle when blown by the wind. Ducks and some geese use the rafts as resting places. The rafts present a good alternative to resting on the lake bank. In the event of an approaching "flying" predator the raft allows quicker entry into the water and safety than the lake bank does.

The watershed area for this lake is not sufficient during the summer months to maintain a constant level. To aid in maintaining the desired water level, water from a well is pumped into the ponds and lakes described below. The water flows from the first pond into the second pond into the third pond and finally into this lake, while another route is through the west small lake which receives water from a pond in the duck breeder aviary which is fed by water from a water heat pump located in the family home. Thus the small ponds and the west small lake are constantly provided with fresh water and the overflow aides in maintaining a constant water level in this lake.

The lake area has nest boxes for ducks and nesting aides available for geese. Ducks that might nest on the ground are provided with bottomless nest boxes constructed from l" x12" shelving. The boxes are the width of a l" x 12" board and are 24 inches long. The top is 28 inches and is hinged on one side with a screen door hook on the other to secure the top. One of the narrow ends has an entrance hole which is 5 inches in diameter. A 24 inch, bottomless, entrance tunnel is constructed from l" x10" shelving and secured to the entrance. The entrance tunnel helps to darken the inside of the nest box and to provide protection from larger birds, particularly those with long necks.

Tree-nesting ducks are provided upright boxes Wood duck nest boxes which are constructed from l" x12" shelving. The boxes are the width of a l" x12" board with a front which is 23 inches high and a back which is 25 inches high. The roof is a 24 inch board which is hinged on the back side and hooked on the front. The entrance hole is football shaped and is about 4 inches high in the center and 5.5 inches wide. Since the birds have had one wing altered to prevent flying, a ramp leads from the ground to the entrance hole. The nest boxes are generally mounted in the edge of the lake, about one foot above the highest water level, on a length of pipe. Nest material of rotted sawdust, pine bark or peat moss is provided.

The geese which choose a nesting aid can select from old tire casings, with the sides wired together, or A-frames. The A-frames are approximately 20 inches high at the end crests. The bases are 32 inches on the long and 42 inches wide. Both ends are left open.

The birds in this area have been pinioned (removal of the last section of one wing) to prevent them from flying. This makes the 42 inch fence sufficient to prevent them from escaping from the area, but 48" fencing is now preferred. Pinioning is required for all birds covered by the Migratory Waterfowl laws (Canada Geese, Wood Duck, etc.). The process of pinioning has been enhanced by the development of Chenoa Pinion-aid which originated at Chenoa and allows a bloodless transformation. In addition to pinioning, a Federal license and a State license are required to possess and/or dispose (sell) of birds covered by the Migratory Waterfowl laws. Waterfowl inhabiting this area are Canvasback ducks, Wood Ducks (Normal), Cackling Canada geese, Dusky Canada geese, Richardson's Canada geese, Emperor geese, Western Greylag geese, Pink-Footed geese, Ross's geese, Greater Snow geese, Lesser White-Fronted geese, Australian shelducks, Cape shelducks, Common shelducks.

In the foreground is a moveable pen which serves as the fourth stage of movement for the young waterfowl as they begin to mature. The pens are also used as enclosures where pairing of various waterfowl is attempted.

Also shown in photograph E in the areas south of the barn are three individual pens and ponds. Immediately in front of the barn is an area which houses Richardson Canada geese. To the south of this area are the Eastern Greylag geese and the American Black ducks. Finally in the area with the small shed are the Moffit's Canada geese along with Standard Black/Blue/Splash Cochin chickens.

Also in Photograph E is a small covered pen that is presently the home of African Black ducks. The pond is a black plastic tub with a drain in it to make cleaning easier.

The grow out aviary is shown in Photographs E, F, and G. The major use is in growing out and housing of surplus waterfowl. Like the breeder aviary it is structurally made of treated wood, 1" by 2" welded wire that is six feet tall, and topped with 2 inch Toprite III netting. The structure is 75 feet wide and 100 feet long. Included is a concrete pond which is approximately 25 feet by 50 feet which is fed by well water during three hour periods every eight hours. During the spring when surplus waterfowl are at a minimum the aviary provides a home for Red-breasted geese, Nene geese Mottle ducks, chiloe wedgeon, Cape teal, and Radjah shelducks.

The area fenced with chain link making up the majority of the upper half of Photograph E is secure for waterfowl of Wood Duck size or larger, donkeys, and goats.

E - With North Being 12:00 You Are Looking In A 1:00 Direction

New enclosures to this discussion are two enclosures for small fowl which are essentially made on the same design as the "snub nosed" rectangular design in the URL listed. These serve as the home for Cochin bantams of various colors. The Cochins provide eggs for starting the freshly hatched waterfowl and are also part of various color experiments. The "rabbit-type" pen which is also shown serves as the temporary home for a variety of fowl.

F - With North Being 12:00 You Are Looking In A 2:00 Direction

In the background of Photograph G is a U-shaped parcel with a small lake that serves as the holding pen for the various geese that have been designated for sale. An occasional donkey or goat often joins the waterfowl. The building to the right of the photograph was originally a 2500 square foot kennel during a period of showing Shetland Sheepdogs and an even longer stint as a boarding kennel. Presently a portion of the building serves as the inside home for a Chow-type and Boston Terrier-type. The white door now leads to a section where runs have been removed to allow storage of feed and other items. This room also serves as the shipping room. Waterfowl are placed in holding pens about 36 hours prior to shipping to let them get over being caught and to let them settle down before shipping. The green door leads to a recently constructed shop that houses tools, lawn mowers, etc.

G - With North Being 12:00 You Are Looking In A 3:00 Direction

Approximately 1000 feet of the block building has been equipped with heating and air conditioning. The major use of this section is to house the homemade incubators which are the only incubators we have used until the recent purchase of a used GQF 1202 as a backup to our present incubators.

The hatchery proper contains an incubator constructed from a discarded two-door refrigerator. The heat source is two 100 watt light bulbs located in the area which was formerly the freezer. Temperature is controlled by an electronic thermostat and is backed up by two wafer thermostats. One electronic thermostat controls the hatching area, while the other two serve as safety switches in the heat generating area in the event of a failure by the first thermostat.

The temperature is monitored by digital-electronic medical thermometers. This particular type of thermometer has a probe on a flexible wire. The probe is inserted through the side of the incubator, thus allowing readings to be taken without opening the incubator. One thermometer is placed high in the incubator, the other is placed low in the incubator. An automatic egg turner has been installed which turns the eggs every two hours. The incubator is in constant use during the year. Ducks are given preference during the spring and early summer. A variety of game birds, bantams and chickens are hatched at other times. Two other incubators have been constructed using the design discussed above. A pie safe employs two 100 watt heat cables to hatch rheas and a school-size refrigerator uses two 100 watt bulbs to hatch geese.

Eggs from the exotic ducks and geese are taken from the females approximately two days after the last egg is laid. The eggs are placed in an incubator. This process assures a better hatch and makes impossible the confusion on the lake produced by young birds. Another important factor is that the female will very likely lay a second clutch of eggs which would be unlikely if the eggs from the first nest were hatched by her.

Another use of this building is as a beginning point for the brooding of fowl that have recently hatched and before they are moved to the broodery visited earlier. The building also serves as a feed storage area.

Development of this web section is inspired by physically visiting the facilities and web pages of Northwest Waterfowl (Lynn and the late Paul Dye), Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Sanctuary (Ian Gereg, Avian Director) and the Connecticut Waterfowl Trust (Kem Appell) during recent APWS Conventions. I am intrigued by the way others have designed their facilities, and I hope you are intrigued by mine.

Waterfowl Management

Most species are represented by four to five pairs of birds. Every effort is made to locate birds within a species which are unrelated in order to maintain the largest possible gene pool. The breeder, date of hatching, and parents of Chenoa hatched birds are kept for each bird in a computer file. Females are banded with a numbered band on the left leg and males on the right leg. A colored band is placed on the opposite leg, thus the colored band and/or the numbered band is used to match each bird with the appropriate computer file. The advantage of the colored band is that it can be seen from a distance, but it is more likely to be lost by the bird than is the numbered band, which requires catching the bird before being read.

A large gene pool is desirable to support a high level of hatchability of eggs, a healthy collection, and breeding stock capable of being reintroduced into the wild. Several species of geese, the Nene for one, are evident in the wild today because captive bred stock, like those at Waterfowl of Chenoa, were available when the wild population had been reduced to a very small size because of demands placed on the species by the movement of man and/or environmental changes.

Nenes Thrive Because Someone Cared
1950 "Wild" Population Estimated At 39

Media Features

    Television Features

      Television Feature, Tennessee Crossroads, Channel 8, Nashville, TN, "Bird Man of Martin," Waterfowl Activities and University Classroom, October 22 and 28, 1995 (State-wide Viewing)

      Television Feature, WMCT TV, Channel 5, Memphis, TN, "Bird Man of Martin," Waterfowl Activities and University Classroom, July 20 and 25, 1995 (Regional Viewing)

    Print Feature

      "A Backyard For The Birds, Waterfowl of Chenoa boasts an unparalleled collection of geese, shelducks, and ducks in Martin," Tennessee Cooperator, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative: LaVergne, TN (June, 2006). (Story and Photographs by Allison Morgan)

      "Welcome To The World Of Waterfowl of Chenoa," The Messenger, Union City, Tennessee (Monday, March 29, 2004). (Story and Photographs by Glenda Caudle)





Ducks of the World

Shelducks of the World

True Geese of the World:
The Anser Species

True Geese of the World:
The Branta Species

License/Permit Information

It is important to note that waterfowl in collections like those at Waterfowl of Chenoa must be legally obtained. Waterfowl cannot be captured from the wild for the purpose of domestication.

In Tennessee a propagation license is required to possess and raise wild waterfowl native to the United States. In all states a Federal permit must be obtained prior to selling waterfowl which are native to the United States.

Wild waterfowl possessed by individuals should have an appropriate "paper trail" of permits indicating legality of possession.







Bird Links to the World

Birding and Ecological Sites in North America

Connecticut Waterfowl Trust

Dan Cowell Waterfowl Pages

Electonic Resources on Ornithology

Feathersite Pages
Domestic Geese
Domestic Ducks
Non-domestic Waterfowl

Harteman Wildfowl

Kids World 2000: Zoos and Aquariums

P. Kooy & Sons

Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Sanctuary

National Audubon Society

Northwest Wildfowl

Zoo In The Wild

Sylvan-Heights Waterfowl

Ducks Unlimited Sites

Contact Information

Maurice Houston Field
Curator, Chenoa Waterfowl

2008 Maurice Houston Field Links to this site are encouraged and do not require permission in advance of linking, however notification of linking is appreciated.

Copying of the whole or any part of this web site for print or Internet publication is strictly prohibited without advance written permission.

Last Updated
Saturday, 18-Dec-2010 18:15:05 CST

This page was placed in service initially 12/20/95 on