Birdwatching Canada

A voice for the northern birds

Ducks, Ducks & More Ducks

We love posting good news on this blog. When you’re dealing with wildlife and wild spaces, good news items are few and far between.

Today is one of the good days.

Northern pintail male and female ducks

Northern pintail male and female ducks

The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey samples more than two million square miles of waterfowl habitat across the United States, Canada, and Alaska. The survey estimates the number of ducks on the continent’s primary nesting grounds.

Songbirds are declining around the world, but our North American waterfowl population remains healthy. Not only are the numbers up from last year’s survey, but the total population numbers in the millions are very heartening. As long as prairie potholes, marshes and lakes are preserved, waterfowl of all kinds should have a promising future. You can’t say that for many wild species these days.

Highlights from the survey include:

  • The estimated mallard population is 8.5 million birds, a 10 percent increase over last year’s estimate of 7.7 million birds and 13 percent above the long-term average.
  • The estimated population of 3.1 million gadwall is similar to last year’s estimate and 73 percent above the long-term average.
  • At 7.4 million, the estimated population size of blue-winged teal is the second highest on record, while green-winged teal numbers were at an all-time high of 3.4 million. Estimates for both species are well above their long-term averages (60 percent and 79 percent, respectively).
  • The 3.2 million estimate for northern pintails is 23 percent more than last year but 20 percent below the long-term average.
  • The estimated number of one million redheads is similar to last year and is 62 percent above the long-term average.
  • The canvasback estimate of 662,000 is 35 percent more than last year’s estimate and similar to the long-term average.
  • The estimated abundance of northern shovelers (4.4 million) is 25 percent more than last year and 92 percent above the long-term average.
  • The scaup (lesser and greater combined), estimate of 4.2 million, is 12 percent greater than last year but 18 percent below the long-term average.
  • Population estimates for American black ducks, ring-necked ducks, American wigeon, bufflehead, goldeneyes, and mergansers are similar to last year as well as their 1990-2008 averages.

The entire Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2009 report can be downloaded from the US Fish & Wildlife website.

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