Preliminary 2015 duck population and pond estimates from the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. The estimate of 49.5 million breeding ducks was similar to last year’s estimate of 49.2 million, and 43% above the long-term average. The total pond estimate was 6.3 million, which was 12% below last year’s estimate of 7.2 million and 21% above the long-term average of 5.2 million. Despite an early spring over most of the survey area, habitat conditions were similar to or poorer than last year. In many areas, the decline in habitat conditions was due to average to below-average annual precipitation, with the exception of portions of southern Saskatchewan and central latitudes of eastern Canada. Note: Estimates sometimes change between the preliminary numbers and final results.
Sales for the 2015-2016 Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp began on Friday, June 26, 2013 with a special event hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bass Pro Shops at the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee. Partners from Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Postal Service also participated in the event, where waterfowl hunters, birders, stamp collectors, conservationists and outdoor recreationists lined up to be among the first to buy the nation’s most unique and successful conservation stamp. The new stamps can be purchased online, at many sporting goods and retail stores, and at some post offices and national wildlife refuges. Since 1934, the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp ("Duck Stamp") has provided more than $850 million, conserving over 6.5 million acres of crucial habitat throughout the United States and its territories.
On May 5th, an aerial survey crew in the Eastern Dakotas had the honor of kicking off the 60th annual Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, flying initial transects between Winner and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. While the initial observations point to very dry wetland conditions and a scarcity of ducks in that region, it remains to be seen what pilots and and ground crews in the ten other survey areas across Canada and the northern United States will find. What is certain is that their daily reports will be full of fascinating insights and anecdotes, captivating imagery, and important clues as to what to expect as regulations are set in late summer for the fall hunting season.
A cooperative effort of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and state, provincial, and tribal agencies, this survey currently covers more than 2.1 million square miles of the northern United States and Canada, and includes most of the primary duck nesting areas in North America.
Since 1935, pilot-biologists have been flying the winter skies to count birds. Known as the Mid-winter Survey, this coordinated, federal-state survey of wintering waterfowl provides information about species distribution and abundance. For some species, particularly those that breed in inaccessible regions of the arctic, the Mid-winter Survey provides the primary annual index to species abundance and is used to guide the establishment of hunting regulations.
Brad Bortner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division Chief of Migratory Bird Management is in Saskatchewan, Canada with several of the pilot biologists you'll recognize from their contributions to our flight logs - Mark Koneff, Phil Thorpe and Walt Rhodes - and others from the Service, to band ducks for the annual waterfowl banding project. Banding ducks is part of the effort to continue gathering knowledge for better management of waterfowl, providing information on population estimates, migration patterns, life span, survivability, productivity, and disease prevalence. The Division of Migratory Bird Management undertakes a number of surveys in conjunction with the USFWS Regional Offices, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and State and Provincial wildlife-management agencies.
Using the Bands Across America search tools found on this site, you can query and map waterfowl banding data as recent as this past spring all the way back to 1914.
Your search of more than 3.6 million banding records can be narrowed or expanded using multiple criteria to easily see banding and recovery locations. All results are plotted on a scalable map, offering critical information for waterfowl biologists monitoring populations across the continent.