July 2, 2010
The 2010 preliminary estimate of the total duck population from
the traditional survey area of the Waterfowl Breeding Population and
Habitat Survey is 40.9 million birds.
This is similar to last year’s estimate of 42 million birds and is
21 percent above the long-term average.
This report summarizes information
about the status of duck populations and wetland habitats during
spring 2010, focusing on areas encompassed by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife (USFWS) and Canadian Wildlife Services’ (CWS) Waterfowl
Breeding Population and Habitat Survey.
The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey samples more
than two million square miles of waterfowl habitat across the
north-central and northeastern United States, south-central,
eastern, and northern Canada, and Alaska. The survey estimates the
number of ducks on the continent's primary nesting grounds.
Highlights from the survey in the north-central United States,
south-central and northern Canada, and Alaska (the traditional
survey area) include:
- Estimated mallard abundance was
8.4 million birds, which was similar to the 2009 estimate of 8.5
million birds and 12 percent above the long-term (1955-2009)
- Estimated abundance of American
wigeon (2.4 million) was similar to 2009 and to the long-term
- Gadwall estimated abundance (3
million) was similar to 2009 and 67 percent greater than the
- The estimated abundance of
green-winged teal was 3.5 million, which was similar to the 2009
estimate and 78 percent above their long-term average of 1.9
teal estimated abundance was 6.3 million, which was 14 percent
below the 2009 estimate, but 36 percent above the long-term
average of 4.7 million;
- Estimates of northern shovelers (4.1 million) and redheads
(1.1 million) were similar to 2009 and were 76 percent and 63
percent above long-term averages;
- The northern pintail estimate of 3.5 million was similar to
the 2009 estimate and 13 percent below the long-term average of 4
- The canvasback estimate of 0.6 million was similar to the 2009
estimate and to the long-term average;
- The combined (lesser and greater) scaup estimate of 4.2
million was similar to that of 2009 and 16 percent below the
long-term average of 5.1 million.
In the eastern survey area
(northeastern United States and eastern Canada), the population
estimate for mergansers was 386,000, 15 percent below the 2009
estimate and 14 percent below the 1990-2009 average. American
black duck populations were similar to the 2009 estimate but
7 percent below the
long-term average of 479,000. All other duck population estimates
in the eastern survey area were similar to the 2009 estimates and
the 1990-2009 average.
Habitat conditions during the 2010 Waterfowl Breeding Population
and Habitat Survey were characterized by average to below-average
moisture and a mild winter and early spring across the entire
traditional (including the northern locations) and eastern survey
areas. Conditions across the Canadian prairies were similar to
2009. Portions of southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba
improved, but a large area along the Alberta and Saskatchewan
border remained dry and moisture levels in portions of Manitoba
declined from last year.
The 2010 estimate of ponds in Prairie Canada was 3.7 million. This
was similar to last year’s estimate (3.6 million) and to the
1955–2009 average (3.4 million). Wetland numbers and conditions
remained excellent in the eastern U.S. prairies, but habitat
conditions were poorer through the western Dakotas and Montana.
The 2010 pond estimate for the north-central U.S. overall was 2.9
million, which was similar to last year’s estimate (2.9 million)
and 87 percent above the long-term average (1.6 million). Fall and
winter precipitation in the eastern Dakotas generally improved the
good habitat conditions already present. However, wetland habitats
in the western Dakotas and Montana were not recharged, resulting
in poorer conditions than in 2009, at the time of the survey.
The annual survey guides the Service’s waterfowl conservation
programs under authority of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The Service works in partnership with state biologists from the
four flyways – the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific – to
establish regulatory frameworks for waterfowl hunting season
lengths, dates, and bag limits.