North America’s total spring duck population is the highest ever recorded, according to the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and… Habitat Survey.
Conducted each May by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service, the survey puts the duck population at 48.6 million birds. That represents a 7 percent increase from 2011’s record number of 45.6 million. “Although habitat conditions were not ideal for duck reproduction in 2012, the high duck populations stemming from 2011 and reproduction that did occur in 2012 should make for an amazing year” said Matt Choinard, staff biologist for Delta Waterfowl.
“This is the highest duck count since we started the survey in 1955,” says Dr. Frank Rohwer, Delta Waterfowl’s scientific director. “We had excellent wetland conditions in 2011, the second-highest pond count ever. So last year, we made a pile of ducks. This year, we’re counting them.”
Mallards, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, gadwalls, canvasbacks, northern shovelers and scaup are all up significantly from last year, with both species of teal and shovelers at all-time highs. Blue-winged teal are estimated at 9.2 million, green-winged teal number more than 3.4 million and shovelers now top 5 million.
Mallard breeding numbers sit at 10.6 million, a 15 percent increase over 2011 and 40 percent over the long-term average.
Gadwall increased 10 percent over last year, and now total 3.5 million. The population is nearly double the long-term average for gadwalls.
American wigeon are up slightly to 2.1 million, but are still 17 percent below their long-term average.
Scaup numbers are up 21 percent to 5.2 million, the seventh-straight year that the bluebill count has gone up. Scaup are at their highest breeding population since 1991.