4th Annual Sea Duck Conference Coming to Alaska

Sea Duck Conference LogoWant to learn more about sea ducks in Alaska and across the globe? Then join scientists from around the world for a stimulating and educational conference on sea duck conservation and research. The Sea Duck Joint Venture (SDJV) has helped sponsor a North American Sea Duck Conference once every three years since 2002. The 4th international conference will be held September 11-16th, 2011 at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. These conferences provide opportunities for researchers, managers, or anyone interested in sea ducks to share information and research results, conduct workshops on specific issues, and to hold related meetings. Field trips to Kenai Fjords are available as well as an evening of entertainment by Mr. White Keys!

New Airplanes to Join Survey Fleet

Kodiak float plane photo, Credit: David Pederson, USFWS

When the next Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey is conducted in May 2011, many of the pilot biologists will be taking flight with a brand new set of wings. During the 2010 EAA AirVenture aviation show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, it was revealed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has received nine new Kodiak float planes to replace some of the older, smaller planes that have been used to fly the surveys across North America. According to Jim Wortham, pilot biologist and chief of the migratory bird survey program, the new planes have a high saftey rating and greater performance range, and the new turbine engines will offer greater reliability in the field, increasing the overall efficiency of their misson.

Browse the flight logs to see how these planes will be used

2010 Status of Waterfowl Report Released

Green-winged Teal photo, Blake Matheson, Flickr.comFinal results from the 2010 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. Preliminary reports are confirmed -- a total duck population estimate of nearly 41 million birds in the traditional survey area, which is similar to the 2009 tally and 21 percent above the long term average.

View Video Report

Download 2010 Report

2010 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

Hunter Activity and Harvest Report for 2009 Season Released

Hunter setting decoys. Credit: Milton Friend/USFWS

The latest Migratory Bird Hunting Activity and Harvest Report has been released, reporting that over 13.1 million ducks were harvested in the United States during the 2009-2010 waterfowl hunting season, down from 13.6 million from the previous season. The number of harvested geese also decreased somewhat, from about 3.8 million harvested in the 2008-2009 season to 3.3 million harvested nationally in the 2009-2010 season.

In addition to downloading the full report, you can also generate custom harvest trends reports to quickly and easily view the information that is important to you. With these custom reports, you can view harvest trends for a specific species in a specific state; or you can view results for all ducks or all geese on a national level or within a selected flyway; or you can see the total of all ducks and geese at the national level. Results from these custom reports are presented in line graph format to easily illustrate harvest trends from 1961 through 2009. To view harvest activity reports for previous years, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Management website.

Download Harvest Report

Run a Custom Harvest Trends Report

2010 Duck Numbers and Habitat Survey Available

Northern Shoveler hen on a wetland on the Gayford air-ground north of Calgary, AB. Credit: Steve Leach, Env. Canada.

Preliminary results for the 2010 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. The estimate of 40.9 million birds is similar to last year’s estimate of 42.0 million, and was 21% above the long-term average. The total pond estimate was 6.7 million, which was similar to last year’s estimate and 34% above the long-term average. Habitat conditions were characterized by average to below-average moisture and a mild winter and early spring across the entire traditional (including the northern locations) and eastern survey areas. Note: Estimates sometimes change between the preliminary numbers and final results.

View Pond Numbers

View Duck Numbers

View Habitat Conditions Map

Download Trends Report

Fish and Wildlife Service Monitors Gulf Oil Spill Very Closely

A mixed flock of ducks taking off from a wetland. Credit: Gary Kramer/USFWSWhile the spring waterfowl population survey results are expected to indicate that population sizes of most duck species and breeding habitat conditions are good this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remains "very concerned" about the impacts of of the gulf coast oil spill. With millions of waterfowl and other migratory birds beginning their fall migration to wintering and stopover habitat along the Gulf Coast in just a few weeks, those impacts will continue to be monitored and taken into account when establishing hunting frameworks for the upcoming season.

First Day of Duck Stamp Sales

image of 2010-2011 duck stamp

The First Day of Sale event for the 2010-2011 Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp is June 25, 2010. Since 1934, the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp ("Duck Stamp") has provided nearly 700 million dollars for habitat conservation.

2010 Breeding Population Survey Draws to a Close

Caleb Spiegel (left) and Fred Roetker (right) bring their Quest Kodiak survey plane home. The 2010 Survey is done. Credit: Wipaire, Inc.S

When pilot biologist Fred Roetker and observer Caleb Spiegel touched down in Minnesota on June 10, the 2010 Habitat and Breeding Population Survey drew to a close for another year. The dedicated pilots and survey crews really outdid themselves this year, sharing more photos than ever, and even submitting a few "bird's-eye" video clips of what they were seeing as they criss-crossed the "Duck Factory" in May and June. You can access all of the pilot biologist reports for some early insight into the waterfowl and habitat conditions that will be used to develop population estimates that will eventually determine fall hunting regulations. Conditions varied across the flyways of course, but in general, an early spring throughout much of Canada and the northern US should bode well for waterfowl reproduction.

Pilot Biologists Begin 2010 Survey

May Waterfowl survey begins. Photo by Garnet Raven (CWS).

May Waterfowl survey begins. Photo by Garnet Raven (CWS).

In early May, the first of 12 air crews and associated ground crews took off to conduct the annual Breeding Population and Habitat Survey across Canada and the northern United States. Go to the Pilot Biologist Reports to read personal accounts and see pictures of current habitat conditions from the pilot biologists and ground crews conducting the survey. Each year, air crews (a pilot biologist and an observer) fly fixed-wing aircraft at low altitude (150 ft) over transect lines through waterfowl habitat areas. Over 55,000 miles of transects are flown every year. That’s like counting ducks in a single line over two times around the world!

This survey is a cooperative effort of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and state, provincial, and tribal agencies. It 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.

Pilot biologists gathered at a pre-survey planning meeting.  Front row (left to right):  Ed Mallek, Fred Roetker, Jim Wortham, Sheldon Mixon, Thom Lewis and Mark Koneff. Back row (left to right): Phil Thorpe, John Bidwell, Jim Bredy, Walt Rhodes, Terry Liddick and John Solberg. Missing: Karen Bollinger, Brian Lubinski, Kevin Fox.

Pilot biologists gathered at a pre-survey planning meeting. Front row (left to right): Ed Mallek, Fred Roetker, Jim Wortham, Sheldon Mixon, Thom Lewis and Mark Koneff.
Back row (left to right): Phil Thorpe, John Bidwell, Jim Bredy, Walt Rhodes, Terry Liddick and John Solberg.
Missing: Karen Bollinger, Brian Lubinski, Kevin Fox.