Mid-Winter Survey

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Massachusetts Mid-winter Survey Beats the Blizzards

Mid-Winter Survey
Written by Mark Koneff
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Photo of Mark Koneff.My observer Steve Earsom (another Service pilot-biologist) and I completed the Massachusetts Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey in the nick of time. The day after Steve and I parted ways in Providence, RI (Steve to return home to VA, me to ferry the plane back to ME), Massachusetts was hit with the first of a series of severe winter storms. That one dropped over 30 inches of snow in places, and it really hasn’t stopped snowing for long in New England since then. We enjoyed fairly nice weather for the survey and you’ll note an absence of snow and ice in the accompanying photos! Counts of most species of ducks and geese were near normal levels for the past few years. Counts of American eiders were down somewhat in MA, but counts farther north in ME had been higher than in recent years so the total count in New England was right around levels observed over the past 5 years or so. Eiders were well distributed throughout the state and seemed to be present near every island, point, and rock ledge in the state. This is in contrast to some years when we’ll find 80% of the wintering eiders in MA congregated into a single raft (often mixed with scoters) near, Chatham, Monomoy, or on the shoals between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

New Jersey Crew Completes Midwinter Survey - Brant Numbers Low

Mid-Winter Survey
Written by Steve Earsom
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Photo of Stephen D. Earsom.The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife recently completed the annual midwinter survey of New Jersey and Long Island. Information collected from this survey is used to set hunting seasons for Atlantic brant. Also, the Black Duck Joint Venture uses the data to better understand associations between habitat and black duck numbers so as to improve management strategies.

Pilot-Biologists Shrug Off the Cold and Take to the Skies for Mid-winter Surveys

Mid-Winter Survey
Written by Mark Koneff
Thursday, January 15, 2015

Photo of Mark Koneff.Since 1935, pilot-biologists have been flying the winter skies to count birds. Known as the Mid-winter Survey, this coordinated, federal-state survey of wintering waterfowl provides information about species distribution and abundance. For some species, particularly those that breed in inaccessible regions of the arctic, the Mid-winter Survey provides the primary annual index to species abundance and is used to guide the establishment of hunting regulations.

Stock Ponds Critical to Texas Waterfowl

Mid-Winter Survey
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..

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.

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