2011 Status of Waterfowl Report Released

Blue-winged Teal photo, Chris Nicolai, US FWSFinal results from the 2011 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. Preliminary reports are confirmed -- a total duck population estimate of 45.6 million birds in the traditional survey area, which is an 11% increase over last year's tally and 35 percent above the long term average.

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2011 Adaptive Harvest Management Report

This hard copy report provides waterfowl managers and the public with information about the use of Adaptive Harvest Management for setting waterfowl regulations in the United States.

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2011 Pond Numbers and Habitat Survey Available

A Northern Pintail takes to the air in southeastern North Dakota. Credit: Chris Nicolai, US FWS.

Preliminary results for the 2011 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. The estimate of 45.6 million birds was 11% higher than last year’s estimate of 40.9 million, and was 35% above the long-term average. The total pond estimate was 8.1 million, which was 22% above last year’s estimate and 62% above the long-term average. Habitat conditions were characterized by average to above-average moisture and a normal winter and spring across the entire traditional and eastern survey areas. The exception was a portion of the west-central traditional survey area that had received below-average moisture. Note: Estimates sometimes change between the preliminary numbers and final results.

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View Pond Numbers

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View Habitat Conditions Map

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Pilot Biologist Thom Lewis Killed in Tragic Accident

Thom Lewis

Pilot biologist Thom Lewis was lost on June 23, 2011 in a fatal aircraft accident. Thom worked as a pilot biologist for the Migratory Bird Program, and had been involved for the past nine years in the May Breeding Population and Habitat Surveys that are documented via the pilot biologist reports found on this website. Thom and his instructor were conducting early morning instructional flights on Eglin Air Force Base near Fort Walton Beach in Okaloosa County, Florida.

Thom grew up and attended high school in Maryland where he became an avid outdoorsman. Thom attended Anne Arundel Community College, University of Maryland, and most recently Texas A & M University where he was a M.S. Candidate working with Whooping Cranes. Since 1992, Thom was the Refuge Biologist at St. Vincent NWR in the Florida panhandle until he joined the Division of Migratory Bird Management as a pilot biologist in 2007. He had a great passion for his work, detailed in his final flight log from just a few weeks ago.

View all of Thom's recent flight logs and photos

Atlantic Habitat Conditions Excellent for Canada Geese

Canada Geese, Credit: USFWS

With the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey of Canada and the northern United States complete, many pilot biologists flying those surveys continued northward to survey the various populations of sub-arctic and arctic nesting geese. Pilot biologist Mark Koneff reports on the condition of habitats for the Atlantic Population of Canada Geese. Overall conditions in the Ungava peninsula in northern Quebec are excellent and the survey timing appears to be quite good with respect to the breeding behavior of the geese. Despite harsh mid-Atlantic winter conditions last year, increased numbers of breeding and non-breeding geese were spotted across the survey area.

View Mark's goose survey flight log and photos

The 2011 Breeding Population and Habitat Survey is Underway!

May Waterfowl survey begins. Photo by Murray Gillespie (Ducks Unlimited Canada).

May Waterfowl survey begins. Photo by Murray Gillespie (Ducks Unlimited Canada).

The first week of May marked the beginning of the 2011 Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, as the first of 12 air crews took to the skies and associated ground crews began their field work. For a first hand account, check out the Pilot Biologist Reports where some great stories and pictures are already flooding in from around Canada and the northern U.S. This is your entree to see what the air crews see as they fly fixed-wing aircraft at low altitude (150 ft) over transect lines through waterfowl habitat areas. Over 55,000 miles of transects are flown every year. That’s like counting ducks in a single line over two times around the world!

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.

Waterfowl Survey team assembles prior to the 2011 season: Front row:  Sheldon Mixon, Phil Thorpe, Jim Wortham, Mark Koneff. Middle row:  Rob Spangler, Jim Bredy, Thom Lewis. Back row:  Steve Earsom, Fred Roetker, Terry Liddick, Walt Rhodes

Waterfowl Survey team assembles prior to the 2011 season: Front row: Sheldon Mixon, Phil Thorpe, Jim Wortham, Mark Koneff. Middle row: Rob Spangler, Jim Bredy, Thom Lewis. Back row: Steve Earsom, Fred Roetker, Terry Liddick, Walt Rhodes Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

4th Annual Sea Duck Conference Coming to Alaska

Sea Duck Conference LogoWant to learn more about sea ducks in Alaska and across the globe? Then join scientists from around the world for a stimulating and educational conference on sea duck conservation and research. The Sea Duck Joint Venture (SDJV) has helped sponsor a North American Sea Duck Conference once every three years since 2002. The 4th international conference will be held September 11-16th, 2011 at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. These conferences provide opportunities for researchers, managers, or anyone interested in sea ducks to share information and research results, conduct workshops on specific issues, and to hold related meetings. Field trips to Kenai Fjords are available as well as an evening of entertainment by Mr. White Keys!

Learn more.

New Airplanes to Join Survey Fleet

Kodiak float plane photo, Credit: David Pederson, USFWS

When the next Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey is conducted in May 2011, many of the pilot biologists will be taking flight with a brand new set of wings. During the 2010 EAA AirVenture aviation show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, it was revealed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has received nine new Kodiak float planes to replace some of the older, smaller planes that have been used to fly the surveys across North America. According to Jim Wortham, pilot biologist and chief of the migratory bird survey program, the new planes have a high saftey rating and greater performance range, and the new turbine engines will offer greater reliability in the field, increasing the overall efficiency of their misson.

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Browse the flight logs to see how these planes will be used

2010 Status of Waterfowl Report Released

Green-winged Teal photo, Blake Matheson, Flickr.comFinal results from the 2010 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. Preliminary reports are confirmed -- a total duck population estimate of nearly 41 million birds in the traditional survey area, which is similar to the 2009 tally and 21 percent above the long term average.

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Download 2010 Report

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