Southern and Central Alberta Habitat Preview

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Written by Jim Bredy
Thursday, March 07, 2013

Photo of Jim Bredy.The habitat conditions during the May survey of 2012 were drier than the previous May survey of 2011.

Breeding Waterfowl Habitat Conditions, 2011-2012

Late spring and early summer precipitation in 2012 was normal to well above normal. This precipitation assisted with the replenishment of water in many wetland basins, and assisted in brood rearing of waterfowl by maintaining and increasing the quality of wetland basins. Late summer/fall precipitation was below normal. However, a major winter storm arrived in the AB prairies the third week of October.

The winter precipitation was slightly below normal for most of the Alberta Prairies during the Nov 2010-early March 2011 timeframe...

Average Precipitation for Prairie Region, November 2010-March 2011

...well below normal during the Nov 2011-early March 2012 period...

Average Precipitation for Prairie Region, November 2011-March 2012

...and is now at or above normal for the Nov 2012-early March 2013 timeframe.

Average Precipitation for Prairie Region, November 2012-March 2013

We thus expect a variable frost seal in the soils. A fall/winter frost seal is important for the quality of seasonal spring wetlands, to be used by breeding waterfowl. The frost seal helps to hold moisture in the spring /summer seasonal wetland basins, rather than the spring snow-melt/runoff soaking into the drier/unfrozen soils.

At this time, we are thus optimistic for good habitat conditions for breeding waterfowl in most of Southern and Central Alberta. We are anticipating our first actual aerial reconnaissance the first few days of May, and will give an updated report on the habitat conditions and the timing of breeding waterfowl at that time.