Stock Ponds Critical to Texas Waterfowl

Written by Kevin Kraai
Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Photo of Kevin Kraai.The Oaks and Prairies Ecoregion serves as an important but generally unrecognized wintering area for waterfowl, shorebird, and water bird populations. The dominant wetland feature harboring these birds is stock ponds. Stock ponds can be defined as small, man-made impoundments whose primary purpose is to serve as a water supply for livestock or to aid in soil conservation and flood control. A few are designated for recreational fishing. Mid-winter waterfowl surveys conducted from 1997-2014 estimate approximately 400,000 stock ponds less than 40 acres in size can be found in the Oaks and Prairies and Rolling Plains Ecoregions of Texas at a maximum density of 9 ponds per square mile (Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, unpublished data). Mid-winter waterfowl surveys indicate that 49% of all ducks counted in the state of Texas were found on stock ponds less than 40 acres in size. In 2013, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimated that the Oaks and Prairies and the Rolling plains accounted for 87% of the mallards that were counted in Texas, and 70% (340,414) of these were found on stock ponds..

Stock ponds in the Texas Panhandle.

Stock ponds in the Texas Panhandle. Photo by Kevin Kraai, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Stock ponds in the rolling plains of Texas.

Stock ponds in the rolling plains of Texas. Photo by Kevin Kraai, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Stock ponds in the rolling plains of Texas.

Stock ponds in the rolling plains of Texas. Photo by Kevin Kraai, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Stock pond in the northern Texas panhandle covered in Northern pintails and other waterfowl

Stock pond in the northern Texas panhandle covered in Northern pintails and other waterfowl. Photo by Kevin Kraai, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department