Release from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have released the results of the 2011 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey. Each winter, pilots and biologists from the two agencies count ducks, geese and swans along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay shoreline and Atlantic coast. In January 2011, survey teams observed 640,700 waterfowl which is lower than the number of waterfowl observed in January 2010 (787,100).
“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 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 states to provide an annual index of the population size for important waterfowl species like black ducks, Atlantic brant and tundra swans.”
This decline is largely due to the observance of fewer Canada geese and snow geese along bay shoreline habitats. Large numbers of geese likely went undetected at inland locations, which are not covered by the survey. However, wintering Canada geese (397,700) remained high and their numbers were bolstered by geese pushed south by the cold temperatures and heavy snow cover in areas north of Maryland.
Overall, greater numbers of ducks were counted in 2011 (199,300) than last winter (173,700), mainly attributed to higher numbers of mallards (55,600) and canvasbacks (43,600). In addition, exceptional numbers of gadwalls were observed on the submerged aquatic vegetation beds on the Susquehanna Flats.
“Cold weather and the associated heavy snow and ice north of Maryland contributed to higher duck numbers in the Chesapeake,” Hindman said.
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.
DNR 2011 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results – Click link for full article