Field Reports: Fall 2016 Duck Production Outlook

Late spring and summer rainfall has improved prospects for waterfowl production on many key breeding areas


Map shows Palmer Modified Drought Indices courtesy of NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information & Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

By DU Field Biologists

1. BRITISH COLUMBIA While abundant rainfall in June and July improved wetland conditions across much of this province, waterfowl production is expected to be average to slightly below average following a dry spring. 

2. ALBERTA This province received beneficial late-spring and summer precipitation, improving wetland conditions in many areas. As a result, waterfowl production should be better than anticipated, although still likely below 2015 levels.

3. SASKATCHEWAN Frequent rainfall in June and July improved wetland conditions across much of this province and even caused flooding in some areas. Numerous waterfowl broods have been observed by field staff in all areas, indicating that waterfowl production has been good.

4. MANITOBA Wet weather in late-spring and summer improved wetland conditions across southwestern Manitoba. In late July, field staff were still observing large numbers of broods of various ages, indicating that a strong breeding effort has occurred among both early- and late-nesting species. 

5. ONTARIO While dry weather across southern Ontario limited seasonal wetland habitat for breeding pairs, larger brood-rearing wetlands have generally withstood the lack of precipitation. In the north, field reports indicate that habitat conditions were generally favorable for breeding pairs and broods. 

6. QUÉBEC Spring precipitation was also below normal in portions of this province. Wetter weather returned over the summer, providing typical habitat conditions for breeding waterfowl across much of this province.  

7. ATLANTIC CANADA Little spring runoff and no flooding resulted in an early breeding effort among mallards and black ducks. Waterfowl production appears to be good overall, and young broods of later nesters were still appearing in late July. 

8. NORTH-CENTRAL U.S. Dry to average wetland conditions prevailed this summer across the most important waterfowl breeding areas of North Dakota, South Dakota, and eastern Montana. Although breeding pair numbers likely remained above average in the region, less wetland habitat on the landscape may result in decreased duck production compared to last year. 

9. GREAT LAKES AND NORTHEASTERN U.S. Abnormally dry to severe drought conditions persisted throughout much of the brood-rearing period across a substantial portion of the Great Lakes and northeastern United States. These conditions likely hampered brood survival and renesting efforts to some degree.
10. WESTERN U.S. Although habitat conditions have improved in parts of the West, such as in California's Sacramento Valley, wetlands continue to suffer the effects of drought in many areas. In Alaska, waterfowl production is expected to be good in the Boreal Forest and excellent on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.