2012 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results Are In

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2012 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results Are In

2/29/2012

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Each winter, during the first week of January, pilots and biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) count ducks, geese and swans along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay shoreline and Atlantic coast. This year the survey teams counted 633,700 waterfowl, which is slightly lower than the number of waterfowl observed during that time last year (651,800).

“It is important to remember that the Maryland survey results are ultimately pooled with results from other states to provide a measure of the distribution and population size of waterfowl wintering in the Atlantic Flyway,” said Larry Hindman, DNR’s Waterfowl Project Leader. “The survey is conducted in a coordinated manner across the Atlantic Flyway to provide information on the population size for important waterfowl species like black ducks, Atlantic brant and tundra swans.”
Despite the unusually mild weather this year, the number of recorded waterfowl was only slightly lower than last winter. Overall, higher numbers of diving ducks were counted in 2012 (125,300) compared to last winter (115,100), mainly attributed to larger numbers of scaup. In contrast, the canvasback totals this year (14,300) were much lower than last winter (46,100) and were the second lowest ever recorded.
“The decline in canvasbacks was likely related to the mild winter weather in the eastern half of the United States,” said Hindman. “However, they did arrive in the Chesapeake in greater numbers after the survey was completed.”
Survey teams counted slightly fewer Canada geese (342,600) along bay shoreline habitats compared to last year (397,700). Mild temperatures, an abundance of open water and a lack of snow in the northern portion of the Atlantic flyway caused a delay in goose migration and contributed to lower numbers of wintering Canada geese in Maryland. However, like canvasbacks, substantial numbers of Canada geese arrived in Maryland after the survey was done.
The Midwinter Waterfowl Survey has been conducted annually throughout the United States since the early 1950s. The survey provides information on long-term trends in waterfowl. Maryland’s survey data is noted below.
Species
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
Mallard
55,500
58,300
34,200
55,100
57,400
Black Duck
23,000
24,900
22,500
23,000
27,700
Gadwall
3,000
2,800
2,000
6,400
5,000
Widgeon
800
500
300
200
1,400
G-W Teal
4,600
1,400
600
600
3,700
Shoveler
600
400
100
100
200
Pintail
2,000
800
500
1,200
1,200
Total Dabblers
89,500
89,000
60,100
86,600
96,600
Redhead
11,900
12,400
3,400
4,700
4,500
Canvasback
40,100
51,300
26,400
46,100
14,300
Scaup
140,000
51,600
43,500
37,100
69,200
Ring-neck
2,100
1,700
900
1,600
1,300
Goldeneye
800
1,000
600
300
900
Bufflehead
18,400
15,900
13,700
7,800
19,800
Ruddy Duck
19,700
23,600
13,400
17,500
15,300
Total Divers
233,000
157,600
102,000
115,100
125,300
Scoters
2,900
2,900
900
200
5,100
Long-tailed Duck
400
400
200
300
800
Mergansers
4,300
8,900
10,600
7,800
2,800
Total Ducks
330,100
261,000
173,700
210,000
230,600
Brant
1,400
800
1,000
1,500
500
Snow Goose
108,000
61,200
78,600
28,200
43,400
Canada Goose
373,100
498,200
519,500
397,700
342,600
Tundra Swan
11,700
14,200
14,000
14,400
16,600
Total Waterfowl
821,500
836,900
787,100
651,800
633,700


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