Air and Ground Reconnaissance is Key to Survey Timing

Important Notice: will be shutting down on January 2, 2019. However, most of the content found here will now be available on the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program website.

Written by Phil Thorpe
Monday, April 28, 2014

Photo of Phil Thorpe.Another year has flown by and I am about to start my 18th survey in the southern Saskatchewan survey area. I’ve been coordinating with my Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) contacts in the Province and they have been out on the ground doing some initial chronology surveys. So far, things are looking about normal or average for this year. The average is calculated by using the CWS biologist’s 25 years working on the ground crew in SK and his opinion of what things look like. He was in the south and southwestern parts of the Province last week and reported all the wetlands were free of ice and all species except ruddy ducks were present. Most species were in larger groups and mallards and pintails were observed in pairs and appeared to be starting to spread out on the landscape into their breeding territories. The light geese and sandhill cranes have already moved to the northern parts of the agricultural belt, staging for the final push north to the Arctic. It appears like a departure on May 3rd will still be the plan. I plan on May 3rd every year, but wildlife surveys are different than meeting schedules. The survey starts when the ducks are spread out onto their breeding territories. To determine survey timing you have to get out on the ground and up in the air and look at social groupings and presence of other migratory birds in the area. If things aren't right, the survey is delayed, regardless of days of the week or personal schedules.