Ungava Peninsula Canada Goose Survey Wraps Up

Image of Payne Bay in the Ungava Peninsula, Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS

Caribou clogging the runway and sunrise at 3:30 were a couple of the unique situations veteran pilot biologist Steve Earsom had to prepare for when he traveled from his usual spring gig conducting the 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey in Ontario to the Ungava Peninsula to fly a Canada Goose survey there. While still unofficial, his first blush assessment is that that the goose numbers for the eastern side seem very similar to the data from 2012 (a relatively good year) and the habitat throughout the peninsula was good, with plenty of water. His adventures during the survey are captured in words and images in our pilot biologist flight logs.

Read the Ungava Survey flight logs.

Good Habitat Conditions in Sight as 2014 Spring Survey Takes Flight

The 2014 Breeding Population and Habitat Survey has begun, and the initial view from 150 feet in the air above eastern South Dakota is a good one. The first of a dozen crews stationed throughout Canada and the northern United States took off May 4 out of Pierre, South Dakota and recent rains reveal a stark contrast to last years dry conditions. The other air crews and their associated ground crews are expected to begin surveying their areas soon, and as in the past you can look to our Pilot Biologist Reports for daily updates and images revealing what they are observing.

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.

Mid-winter Waterfowl Surveys

Mid-Winter Survey
Written by Jim Wortham
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Photo of Jim Wortham.Every January, Biologists-Pilots of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in cooperation with State agencies conduct the Mid-winter Waterfowl Surveys. These surveys are designed to be a snapshot in time of ducks, geese, and swans wintering in concentrations in many States. “MidWinters” as we call them provide Federal and State waterfowl biologists with a broad-scale estimate of wintering abundance and distribution of birds across the four Flyways. Although statistically this survey has it’s warts, there is really no better tool available. In specific cases, results of this survey can also be used to assess environmental impacts to wintering habitats, assess avian disease outbreaks, and support acquisition programs for real estate which could be used as refuges for wintering birds.

As expected, this survey is always fraught with delays, most due to weather, but some also caused by aircraft maintenance schedules or equipment failures. Currently, the airplane which we are using to survey the coastal areas of the Carolinas is undergoing a mandated inspection which is required every 100 hours of use. Technicians have been working overtime to return this “bird” to service, and luckily we have not yet missed very many good-weather days while waiting. Our best estimates now are that the aircraft will be ready tomorrow, and we will immediately get back to work, first surveying birds over several islands in the Chesapeake Bay, and then hurrying back to North Carolina to resume work in the Pamlico Sound.

Thanks to technicians like this working overtime, our 100-mile inspection did not cause us to miss many good-weather flying days.

Thanks to technicians like this working overtime, our 100-mile inspection did not cause us to miss many good-weather flying days. Photo by Jim Wortham, USFWS

Late Season Waterfowl Hunting Frameworks Proposed; 2013 Status of Waterfowl Report Released

American Wigeon photo, Donna Dewhurst, US FWSFinal results from the 2013 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 a 6% decrease over last year's tally, but still 33% higher than the long term average.

Based on the status report, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed hunting regulations for the upcoming 2013-2014 late waterfowl seasons. Hunting season lengths of 60 days were proposed for the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, with 74 days for the Central Flyway (with an additional 23 days in the High Plains areas) and 107 days for the Pacific Flyway.

A full season on pintails would be offered nation-wide with a two bird daily bag limit, and a full season on canvasbacks with a two bird daily bag limit offered nation-wide. Increased possession limits for ducks and geese to three times the daily bag limit has also been proposed.

Read Proposed Frameworks News Release

View Video Status Report

Download 2013 Status Report

2013 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.

Download AHM Report

2013 Trends in Breeding Duck Populations Report - Now Available

Green-winged Teal on the Melita Transect, Southwestern Manitoba. Credit: Marc Schuster, Canadian Wildlife Service.

Preliminary 2013 duck population and pond estimates from the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. The estimate of 45.6 million breeding ducks was 6% lower than last year’s estimate of 48.6 million, but was still 33% above the long-term average. The total pond estimate was 6.9 million, which was 24% above last year’s estimate of 5.5 million and 35% above the long-term average of 5.1 million. Despite a delayed spring over most of the survey area, habitat conditions were improved or similar to last year in many areas due to average to above-average annual precipitation, with the exception being southeastern Canada, the northeast U.S., and portions of Montana and the Dakotas. Note: Estimates sometimes change between the preliminary numbers and final results.

Read News Release

View Pond Numbers

View Duck Numbers

View Habitat Conditions Map

Download Trends Report

2013 Status And Harvests of Sandhill Cranes Report Now Available

Sandhill Crane in flight, Credit: Len Blumin, FlickrThe report covers the Mid-Continent, Rocky Mountain, Lower Colorado River Valley, and Eastern populations of sandhill cranes.

Download 2013 Sandhill Crane report

2012 White-Fronted Goose Survey Reveals Increase in Population

White-fronted goose making a water landing, Credit: US FWSThe Fall Inventory of Mid-Continent White-Fronted Geese was conducted throughout the Canadian prairie in late September and early October and the results are now available. This year's survey yielded 778,000 white-fronted geese in Alberta and Saskatchewan, a 12 percent increase from the previous year. Good wetland conditions prevailed through most of the survey area.

Download 2012 Report

View past White-fronted goose fall inventory reports

2012 Status of Waterfowl Report Released

Pintail photo, George Gentry, US FWSFinal results from the 2012 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. Preliminary reports are confirmed -- a total duck population estimate of 48.6 million birds in the traditional survey area, which is a 7% increase over last year's tally and 43 percent above the long term average.

View Video Report

Download 2012 Report