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Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey

December 03, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Aerial survey by Andy Raedeke

What a difference a week makes. In the last week, several fronts have brought winter weather (temperature and precipitation) to Canada, Minnesota, the Dakotas and Iowa. Coincidentally, birds have been moving out of these northern climes and through Missouri. On November 13th and 14th snow fell on Minnesota and in parts of Iowa. State biologists reported birds moving in and out with these events. Another dusting of snow fell across Minnesota and North Dakota on the 16th and 17th. In Missouri birds were observed gradually increasing on our state areas between Wednesday, the 17th, to Saturday, the 20th.

With these fronts, the percentage of Mallards and divers, especially Ringed-necks, increased and the percentage of Green-winged Teal and Pintail decreased. Along with the composition change, the numbers have greatly increased on most of our since our last survey on November 8.

Despite being well below average earlier on in the season, it looks like these successive fronts have caught us up in migration. The 5 year average number of waterfowl is 738,509. The total for Monday, November 22nd, across our managed public areas is estimated to be around 806,000 (surveys for a few areas were still missing at the time of this post). However, these numbers may already be out-dated. A system moved through Missouri yesterday and early this morning. Flight birds were observed during or after our surveys and Snow Geese were heard flying overhead throughout the night in several locations.

For comparison’s sake, the progression of migration has been similar to 2004 as numbers were low early and steadily increased during towards the end of November before peaking during the first week of December.

Another strong cold front is forecasted to hit Missouri on Thanksgiving. Below freezing conditions and a wintery mix of precipitation are forecasted to endure across the northern states over the next week or so. This has a good chance of locking habitats up with snow and ice and moving birds out and down the Flyway.

The South Zone opens up on November 25th. For those of you just getting out, remember the pintail daily bag limit is 2 and the Canada Goose bag limit is 3 birds this year.

Additional waterfowl hunting information about habitat conditions and hunting prospects can be found on the Department’s website at:
Also check out the mallard migration status:

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