The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today said duck populations and habitat conditions across North America are improved from last year.
The preliminary estimate for the total duck population is 49.2 million birds, an 8 percent increase over last year’s estimate of 45.6 million birds, and 43 percent above the long-term average.
The service bases the estimate on its annual “Trends in Duck Breeding Populations” report released today. The numbers are based on the annual North American waterfowl survey the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service conduct each spring across Alaska, north-central and northeastern U.S. states, and south-central, eastern and northern Canada.
A few highlights from the report:
Estimated mallard abundance is 10.9 million birds, similar to last year’s estimate of 10.4 million birds and 42 percent above the long-term average.
Blue-winged teal estimated abundance is 8.5 million, which is 10 percent above the 2013 estimate of 7.7 million, and 75 percent above the long-term average.
The northern pintail estimate of 3.2 million was similar to last year’s estimate of 3.3 million, and remains 20 percent below the long-term average.
American wigeon were 18 percent above the 2013 estimate and 20 percent above the long-term average.
The combined (lesser and greater) scaup estimate of 4.6 million was similar to 2013 and 8 percent below the long-term average of 5 million. The canvasback estimate of 685,000 was slightly lower than the 2013 estimate of 787,000 but was 18 percent above the long-term average.
Habitat conditions were mostly improved or similar to last year as a result of average to above-average annual precipitation. The total pond estimate (prairie Canada and U.S. combined) was 7.2 million ponds, 40 percent above the long-term average. The majority of Canadian prairies had below to well below average winter temperatures and average precipitation. Southern Manitoba benefitted from last year’s higher summer and fall precipitation, whereas southern Saskatchewan and most of Alberta were aided by higher spring 2014 precipitation. In the U.S. prairies, habitat conditions improved in the western Dakotas and Montana from 2013, but remained similar in the eastern Dakotas.