DEEP: 2010 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results

January 20, 2010
 
2010 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results
 
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted the annual Midwinter Waterfowl Survey on January 4, 2010. The survey is conducted throughout the Atlantic Flyway, and is used as an index of long-term wintering waterfowl trends. The Atlantic Flyway is a bird migration route that generally follows the Atlantic Coast of North America and the Appalachian Mountains. The states and Canadian provinces that make up the Atlantic Flyway all participate in the survey. In Connecticut, the survey is conducted from a helicopter and a census is obtained from the coast, the three major river systems, and selected inland lakes and reservoirs.

Survey conditions for the 2010 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey were excellent. Prolonged cold weather in the weeks prior to the survey resulted in many of the inland lakes and ponds being frozen. When inland water areas freeze, waterfowl concentrate along the coast and on the major river systems. Clear skies and moderate winds on the day of the survey led to unlimited visibility and good flying conditions.

Counts of all puddle ducks were above their short-term (5-year) averages. The mallard count was the highest in over 15 years, as was the count for American black ducks. American wigeon and gadwall counts also were above their respective five-year averages. Following a recent trend, however, most puddle ducks were observed in urban sanctuaries, often associated with supplemental feeding activities. "The Department discourages citizens from feeding waterfowl for a number of reasons, including increased risk of disease transmission, potential for poor nutrition, and a clouding of the real issue facing waterfowl and wildlife in general in Connecticut – loss of suitable habitat," said Rick Jacobson, Acting Director for the DEP Wildlife Division. The Department has published a brochure, "Do Not Feed Waterfowl," that outlines the potential hazards of feeding waterfowl. It is available on the Department’s Web site at www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/wildlife/pdf_files/game/NoFeedWF.pdf.

The scaup count was well below that of last year and continued to be lower than the historical wintering numbers for Connecticut. Declines in scaup numbers throughout North America continue to be of concern for biologists nationwide. Habitat changes on the breeding grounds may be a factor in the long-term decline of scaup. Mergansers were abundant but below levels observed last year and just under the five-year average. The counts for common goldeneyes also were less than last year. Counts for buffleheads and long-tailed ducks were above those from last year and slightly above their five-year averages.

Atlantic brant numbers were lower than last year and below the recent average. Canada goose counts were high for this survey and the highest recorded in a decade.

 Connecticut Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results for Major Species*
 Species  
  2010 
   2009 
 Five-year Avg.
Atlantic Brant
1,000
1,700
1,400
Black Duck
3,200
2,900
2,000
Bufflehead
1,100
   700
   900
Canada Goose
4,800
3,500
3,300
Canvasback 
      0
   100
   100
Mallard  
2,500
1,400
1,100
Merganser
   900
1,800
1,100
Mute Swan 
   700
   700
   800
Old Squaw 
   200
   100
   100
Common goldeneye
   400
   800
   800
Scaup
   800
1,900
2,200
* rounded to nearest hundred